Vail Daily column: Learning never stops
“A culture of learning” — that’s one of the organizational values espoused by Eagle County Schools and it means that we believe learning never stops and that we must intentionally create a culture that’s about personal and academic growth for everyone in the community, especially our students.
A culture of learning doesn’t take the summer off either, and neither does this community and its kids. Sure, there is time for road (and float) trips and backyard barbecues, but an abundance of learning opportunities exists for our community in the summer months.
For kids who come from more affluent families, which have more means and time to spend on learning experiences for their kids, summer months are filled with camps, museums, travel and exploration. These experiences keep kids curious, engaged and growing all summer long. My professional advice to parents is, whatever your means, work to create some of these experiences with your kids — because part of growing up healthy and strong means being part of a loving and connected family.
Our community also has a significant number of kids who come from working families, who have less time and resources (or, in some cases no time and resources) to put kids into special camps or take them for quality learning experiences. I’ve met many of these families and it’s not the case that they are less engaged or caring about their children — it’s simply an economic reality in most cases.
So, for all our families, we work to create an abundance of learning experiences all summer long — so the learning and growing never stops.
Much of the time, we do this in collaboration with key community partners. Our major partner for summer school programming is the Vail Valley Foundation’s YouthPower365. They run a variety of different programs across the community including Great Start and the Magic Bus for preschool age students (academic), Sowing Seeds summer camps (agriculture), First Notes Very Young Composers (music), Celebrate the Beat Pop Hop Camp (dance), and COPA Soccer (athletics). In addition, we partner with Youth Power 365 to deliver Eagle County Schools’ summer school programming through PwrHrs Summer.
Eagle County Schools also offers online summer school options for students through our World Academy Online School. Students who prefer a flexible program, need to catch up on some credits, or are interested in learning more deeply or accelerating their learning on a topic have this option available. Grade recovery options are also available at several schools where students need to improve or earn better scores. We’re also in the process of working with our community libraries on turning one of our decommissioned old school buses into a mobile book-bank, where we can give out free books to kids across the entire community.
Eagle County kids also have an abundance of quality options available through community nonprofits like Walking Mountains Science Center, SOS Outreach, Ute Springs Experiential Learning Center, and the Education Foundation of Eagle County’s Summer School of Rock and Bots for Kids programs.
Finally, it’s not just about the academics. We’re particularly proud of our partnership with the InteGreat! coalition on the Summer Lunch program. At several neighborhood schools (as part of a federal program) and also delivered via a mobile program to some parts of the community (thanks to help from the Food Bank of the Rockies), we’ll be serving free healthy and nutritious meals to kids. There are no special stipulations or requirements for these meals — they are available to everyone. And, InteGreat! has worked with several community organizations and Americorps volunteers to offer an array of services for kids and families at these meal sites — connecting them to even more options available in Eagle County.
Too often, we view what we have available for our kids and families from a lens of scarcity — what we don’t have and what we wish we did. Our district’s efforts across the community are a realization of the abundance (not scarcity) we have in this valley. Our community has so much to offer its kids and families, to keep the “culture of learning” going, and making sure that every child has what they need to thrive year-round.
Jason E. Glass is superintendent of Eagle County Schools. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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