Friday, June 13, 2014
While the sounds of childrens’ voices have mostly faded out of county schools this week, Plantersville Elementary was filled with laughter and nervous energy on Monday, June 9.
Kids, parents, grandparents and community members filled the cafeteria for the opening of the Plantersville Summer Academy. Now in its fifth year, the program has grown from 101 students in 2012, to 136 last year and 181 this year.
Even with the expanded enrollment, there are still kids on a waiting list, according to Ray Funnye of The Village Group, which runs the program.
The goal of the academy is to provide a nurturing environment during summer months while at the same time help improve performance on standardized tests and increase the number of students who graduate from high school.
The academy kicked off Monday morning with breakfast and some light study work. The next day a group of students and chaperones were on their first field trip on Front Street in downtown Georgetown.
The academy is staffed by eight teachers, one nurse, four students from the Duke University Scholars program, two students from Coastal Carolina University, and eight recent graduates or students from county high schools.
Along with studying the three “Rs,” kids also attend sports camps and take field trips.
Karen Pyatt, a kindergarten teacher at Waccamaw Elementary School, took over the academy’s kindergarten class this year.
“I enjoy the challenge and I think it’s a great program to stimulate the minds of our young people throughout the summer,” she said. “And I think this is an investment into our future.”
Pyatt said teachers often have to spend time at the beginning of a new school year getting kids readjusted.
“Throughout the summer their minds aren’t on school. So when they get back we have to take the time to refocus them. But this will help them to stay focused.”
New to the academy this year is a robotics program, which The Village Group partnered with Coastal Carolina to bring.
Funnye said robotics was added to spark the students’ interest in math and science.
“The STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] program is critical for future growth of this country,” Funnye said, “and robotics is an introduction to that area.”