A summer program funded with federal dollars is directly benefiting Smithtown Central School District students for the upcoming school year and beyond.
Applying a federal COVID relief grant to set students up for success, the first-time Smithtown CSD Summer Enrichment Support program has been receiving rave reviews from parents and educators.
The program, which began Aug. 9 and runs through Friday, is open to students entering the first through 12th grades. It offers a primer for academic material to be studied at individual grade levels during the 2021-22 school year.
For middle and high school students, subjects include algebra, geometry, SAT prep, navigating the college application process and college essay writing. Math and ELA are studied in the elementary grades.
“It’s forward-looking. It’s a nice foundation for what they’re going to experience in the classroom,” said Michael Hart, a sixth-grade teacher at Great Hollow Middle School, who is the program director.
All the courses have been wildly popular, with roughly 800 registrations. Each family was entitled to sign up a student for two courses at no charge. The programs are held at St. James Elementary for younger students and at High School East for rising sixth graders and older students.
“It’s been a tremendous success,” Hart said. “The students’ parents have been praising us. The students have been very successful in the classroom and love learning. It’s amazing. We’ve been getting a lot of parent and community support. They’ve been emailing me or having in-person conversations expressing gratitude.”
Hart cited two letters from parents in particular. One mother noted her daughter initially wasn’t enthralled when she learned she had been enrolled in a summer algebra program. But after Day 1 of the program, she returned home beaming with enthusiasm.
Another parent, Ann-Marie Most, wrote Hart via email: “My daughter was enrolled in College Application Process and College Essay Writing. Every day on the way home she would tell me how thankful she is for the opportunity to work on these two things with a knowledgeable teacher. It will definitely take a lot of pressure and stress off the beginning of her senior year.”
The in-person instruction as well as the interaction and socialization have enhanced the learning experience.
“It’s a big difference,” Hart said. “Parents were asking for it. I’m a parent in the district as well as a teacher in the district. So I took advantage of this as well. My children are in the upper grades, and they took the algebra class. It’s night and day to have somebody who is in-person teaching your child rather than a remote learning experience.”