By Yenling Yang, AALEAD Elementary Program Intern
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff & Interns
Summer has just begun and so has our DC Elementary School Summer Program! On July 1, we kicked off our 5-week program at Thomson Elementary School with over 100 youth (114 youth, to be exact – almost double the number of students in the program last year!) and 19 part-time staff members. Even though we are only about two weeks into the program, the enthusiasm from staff, students, and volunteers has been tremendously overwhelming and absolutely contagious, as each day is filled with laughter, smiles, and lots of learning. The students have already gotten to know their teachers and it’s only a matter of time before we get to see each relationship blossom into long lasting relationships.
This summer, we are so lucky to be working with an amazing team of part-time staff members with a wealth of professional and personal experiences, ranging from teaching abroad and in DC schools to extensive experience working in the community (particularly the Asian American community). They hail from all around the DC metro area, the country, and even the world! All have been eager to share their gifts and talents with their colleagues and their students and are doing an amazing job facilitating lessons and activities designed to help our students combat summer learning loss, explore their identity and place in the world, and develop into visionary leaders.
During these five weeks, our schedule is packed! During the morning programs, our students are immersing themselves in a literacy program, whose highlights include “Fractured Fairytales” and “Reading Buddies. “Fractured Fairytales” take classic fairytale stories and turn them upside down! For example, instead of reading The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf , they are reading The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig. The students have indulged in mini-art projects, creative writing, skit-producing, and grammar activities that are structured to help them expand their vocabulary and find fun in the pages of books. During the morning portion of the program each week, our students take a trip to the library, check out fascinating reads, and engage with one another as “Reading Buddies.” As older students read to the younger ones, the laughter and smiles that have erupted have been magical to see!
Last but not least, our students also get to delve into learning about themselves, their peers, and their community as they transition into the afternoon program. As part of this year’s “I Am the Difference” theme, our youth have been participating in four areas focused on health, community, identity, and presentation (creating a newsletter). Using creativity and some thinking outside of the box, both students and staff have made smoothies, practiced yoga, met with an author (Wendy Shang, author of The Great Wall of Lucy Wu), gardened and gone swimming, among other activities. In addition, every Friday, youth take a field trip around the area! Last week, we visited Homestead Farm in Poolesville, MD, where we picked fresh and organic blueberries, while this week, they headed to the Newseum, where we learned about journalism, reporting, and broadcasting.
So much has been accomplished these past two weeks and we are so proud of our students and staff. With only three more weeks left, let the fun continue!