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GBCS Summer Academy - Farm to Fork, New Jersey Agriculture – September 2022
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The objective of our GBCS Summer Academy - During Summer Academy, students engaged in literacy and mathematics, combating summer learning loss. Our 2022 Summer Academy theme was Farm to Fork, New Jersey Agriculture. We compared  how agriculture was used in the past versus today. Integrating our content with enriching field trips, we continued with our  popular canoe trip and visit to the living History Howell Farm. We participated in hands on nutrition lessons with The Community FoodBank of New Jersey.

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  • To provide targeted instruction in Language Arts and Math
  • To reduce the impact of “summer learning loss”
  • To provide students with authentic experiences 
  • To have a minimum of 80% attendance
  • To show a 10% growth in student academic achievement
  • To pilot a whole practice of mindfulness at the start of the day
  • To offer virtual tutoring 

Number of ParticipantsGo to top

Our academy ran for 20 days in July and enrolled 109 students in grades Pre-K to 7th. There were 9 teachers, 5 teaching assistants, 3 high school student volunteers, an on-site nurse and a coordinator of the program. We also utilized community connections: a naturalist facilitated a 20 day school wide mind focus challenge, Ms. Rina Jones, along with Rutgers Master Gardeners, Kelly Rok and Dale Duchai joined our Summer Academy to present a lecture about The Life Cycle of Butterflies and Firefighters from the New Brunswick Fire Department brought a fire truck to GBCS for a presentation about fire safety.

Number of TripsGo to top

We took the students on two field trips:  Griggstown Canoe and Kayak and Howell Living History Farm

Educational SessionsGo to top

The summer academy sessions were held July 5 - 29 (no school July 4) from 9:00 am - 12:00 pm. Each day the students received 90 minute instruction in both language arts and math. They also received breakfast every day during the program.

The teachers used data from the previous school year in order to plan their lessons. They designed lessons that incorporated the watershed theme. There were projects, posters and plays that highlighted our watershed. The first day students were assessed in both Math and Language Arts. This was used as a baseline to determine academic growth over the 20 days. At the end, they completed a final assessment.

Recruitment EffortsGo to top

Reading, writing and math data was collected throughout the year and analyzed in order to determine which students would most benefit from this program. This included students who would benefit from extra academic work and students who were most susceptible to  "summer learning loss." Students were invited to attend the Summer Academy by their teachers. Teachers spoke to parents about how the program would benefit their child.   

After registration was complete all parents were required to meet with the program coordinator to discuss the value of Summer Academy and  the important roles of parents, students, and teachers.   They signed an "attendance contract" and a "parent/student compact". This was completed before students began classes. 

The contract stated that students could miss no more than two days of the 20 day program. The compact was signed by the parent, the student and the student's teacher.  The compact included a description of what all parties agreed to do in order for the student to be successful. For example, getting plenty of rest, completing assignments, and providing high quality curriculum in a supportive environment.

HighlightsGo to top

Undoubtedly, the highlights of the Summer Academy include the high level of engagement, academic gains, and improved attendance,  which are attributed to the addition of field trips and community visitors.
GBCS students learned what life would have been like for kids living on a farm in 1900.  Students pumped water, fed the animals and met the horses, pigs, sheep and chickens up close.  Once all the farm chores were done, GBCS students played 19th century games and toured the various fields on the hay-filled wagon.

We went canoeing on the Delaware & Raritan Canal. Students worked together to make their way down the canal. We practiced our teamwork skills.

Summer Camps (111 students attended) 
Session 1
June 27 - July 1
Session 2
July 5 - 8
Session 3
August 8 - 12
Science Camp
“This summer, GBCS scientists got practice working as engineers. They designed, built and tested their custom safety devices created to (hopefully) keep an egg safe from a 10ft drop! Afterwards, students designed and built bridges using only Elmer's glue and popsicle sticks! Our scientists finished the summer by stepping into the shoes of a volcanologist- learning about,  making and erupting their own volcano!” - Ms. Alyssa
Theater Camp
"At GBCS Theater Camp, students explored acting, storytelling, and singing through various games and activities! Each week, students focused on a different theme and built a performance around that theme. Our first week had students exploring "dreams" and discovering dreams they had, whether it was something they dreamt about during the night or a goal they had. The second week focused on "best days ever", where students envisioned what their ideal day would look like in order to have the best day ever. Each week, students performed monologues and learned a song centered around their theme, which was then put together into a final performance video." - Ms. Robyn and MS. Hilary
Storytelling in Spanish Camp
Students learned how to create stories through art projects. Some projects included: sewing, painting, coloring among others.
Mexican Folkloric Dance Camp
We experienced the Mexican culture through dance lessons, crafts, snacks and the history of various regions of Mexico.
Soccer Camp
Students learned proper ways to pass, dribble, control (or trapping) and shoot a soccer ball by participating in fun drills and activities. 
Basketball Camp
During basketball camp, students learned about the history of basketball. They practiced shooting, dribbling, defending, rebounding and passing skills. Students interacted with one another to help build skills and friendships.
Dolphins on the Run Camp
“Students learned the positive effects that cardiovascular exercise has on the heart. They learned that any movement can be considered exercise as long as we are healthily elevating our heart rate. Students worked on stamina both outside and inside with intervals of walking, jogging, and running, all while having some fun!" 
- Ms. Sarah
Poetry in Spanish Camp
Students read, watched, and listened to poems. Together they learned about techniques to become poets and how poetry can help us share our voices and visions with the world. At the end of camp, participants  walked away with an original body of work as well as a deepened understanding of poetry in Spanish.

ChallengesGo to top

We have been happily challenged by parent requests to expand our program calendar, beyond the 20 days. The three biggest obstacles to expanding the calendar are increased teacher salaries, additional funding needed for field trips, and providing our custodial staff enough time to clean our building before the start of the new school year. 

Another challenge we faced was parent fears and concerns regarding field trips. Many parents had never been to the places we took our students and were nervous to send their children. In the future, we need to improve parent education in relation to field trips. We would like to host an additional parent orientation to focus on field trips, what students will do, what is involved, and how we will keep their children safe.