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The Suburbanite
  • Summer School at Jackson High

  • Today's summer school looks much different than the summer school portrayed in the 1987 film “Summer School” starring Mark Harmon, Kirstie Alley and Courtney Thorne-Smith. The students in the film sacrificed their academic studies for the shenanigans of their cantankerous teacher, who really wanted to be in Hawaii.

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  • Today's summer school looks much different than the summer school portrayed in the 1987 film “Summer School” starring Mark Harmon, Kirstie Alley and Courtney Thorne-Smith. The students in the film sacrificed their academic studies for the shenanigans of their cantankerous teacher, who really wanted to be in Hawaii.
    Summer school at Jackson High School engages students in a much different way with much different goals in mind. Mike Hamm, assistant principal who also supervises and oversees the world language and science departments, is in charge of the summer school program at Jackson High School.
    “Our summer school program is designed to help students that were not as successful as they needed to be in the classroom through the regular school year,” Hamm said.
    “Attending summer school allows students to obtain credits in a particular course that they weren't able to do in the regular year. We use an online system called PLATO which offers coursework in a variety of subject areas,” he said.
    Hamm said students predominately take summer school for core courses such as math, English, science and social studies. This is the fourth year Jackson has offered the program. Students can select from three different time slots. They attend Monday through Friday for two hours a day over four weeks.
    The program started out with students being required to physically be in the building five days a week. It has evolved into virtual attendance for Fridays where students work online from home. Students can also have evening and weekend access to online exercises.
    There is one instructor who sets up all of the coursework for each student and monitors their coursework. The system grades and provides feedback to students as they complete their work. They have to reach a certain competency before they can move onto the next task.
    The instructor, Lynn DeLuca, also provides supplemental work beyond the online coursework. For math, she might provide more math exercises or for English she would provide more writing exercises. Supplemental materials are usually on paper versus online.
    Jackson offers 45 courses in total for the three sessions.
    That doesn't always equate to 45 students because some take more than one course.
    The program has been full every year since its start. For those that miss getting in, they still have access to summer schools in other districts such as Canton City Schools, North Canton or online schools.
    “The genesis of why we started this program was that we saw students with needs.  Providing this type of service gets students back on track and helps them recover and start fresh for the next year. With the enrollment rates over the past few years, it tells me that we are providing a viable and valuable service,” Hamm said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Students have to wait until they complete summer school and obtain the credit they need before they are moved on to the next grade level. Hamm said the program has been very successful and has a high passing rate.
    Attendance is a vital part of the program. Each summer school course is extensive with curriculum and standards equal to that of a regular course. Missing one day of summer school is like missing a full week in the regular school year.
    “Our instructor is really good at building rapport with the students, she's knowledgeable in multiple subject areas including the technology and has a high success rate with students,” Hamm said.
    “Lynn and I came up with the plan four years ago and we've been happy with the results. The program has become more established and we will continue with the program in order to help our kids,” he said.
    Lynn DeLuca, the instructor, creates a binder for each student containing activities and assignments that align with Jackson's core subjects. She is in class everyday with students and monitors their work and activities with her computer.
    “The kids really do like that the program is self-paced,” DeLuca said. “They get instant feedback and they know immediately if their answer is right or wrong. They have to master 75 percent or higher which acts as a motivator for them,” she said.
    Unlike the movie about summer school, in the program at Jackson High School students were engaged and working towards their future.