MUSCATINE, Iowa–In 2019, Jefferson Elementary School Principal Kandy Steel’s summer program, STEA2M program attracted much interest across the district. Designed to accelerate learning in reading and math while still giving students time to enjoy art projects and athletic activities, it proved quite popular both with the teachers who lead it and the families that enrolled children in it. Out of that early start grew the Summer Program for Arts, Recreation, and Knowledge, or S. P. A. R. K. which the district will open to all current kindergarten through sixth grade students this year.
Free for all those who attend, S. P. A. R. K. will run from 8 a. m. to 3 p. m. from June 28 though July 30, with a break for the 4th of July weekend. S. P. A. R. K. will take place at McKinley Elementary School, but families may have their students bussed there from their home elementary school at no cost. Additionally, all participants will receive free breakfasts and lunches through the United States Department of Agriculture’s annual summer meal site program.
Each morning, students will begin their day with academic instruction in reading, writing, and math. Classes will help students gain proficiency in grade level skills and will also adapt to address any particular areas students struggle or excel in. In the afternoon, students can choose to take one of several elective classes, which will focus on high interest science, engineering, art, and athletic concepts. Tailored to suit children’s interests at different ages, younger students will have chances to learn about the world around them through experiences such as meeting farm animals and finding and studying insects, while older students will have opportunities to learn new skills and investigate different career paths through activities like science experiments, upcycling through art projects, discovering the world of forensics, and learning to cook.
Registration for S. P. A. R. K. opened March 22 on the Muscatine Community School District website and will continue through April 2. As families look for summer activities to get their children involved in, Steel encourages them to check out S. P. A. R. K. “Once again, the Muscatine School District will be offering a tremendous summer program,” said Steel. “There’s a lot of research that says kids who participate in summer experiences have much less learning loss than those who don’t.”
Muscatine Community School District Superintendent Clint Christopher also hopes many families will utilize S. P. A. R. K. and that their children will benefit from it. “
“Summer programs are critically important to providing additional math and literacy instruction for our students; it’s equally important to find ways to make that learning safe, fun, and engaging,” stated Christopher. “The Muskie S.P.A.R.K. serves as an exciting learning opportunity for students to learn and grow over the summer and prepare for success next school year.”