SAN ANTONIO – It may still be summer, but already students from SAISD are back in the classroom.
They’re not there for class, but instead for a summer program designed to have fun while learning. The school district has launched Jumpstart, a two-week program that was made possible by the Congressional COVID-19 Funding Cares Act Emergency Relief and a group of principals that developed the academic plan.
Jumpstart is unique to each SAISD campus yet has a big focus on STEAM and STEM programs as well as the arts.
“We’re bringing back so many kids, especially after the year that we had last year. It’s an opportunity for kids to engage in fun, innovative, enriching things,” David Nungaray, principal at Bonham Academy said. “It really helps bring out the best in our kids, the best in our teachers, and really help support their reentry back into the school.”
Fun activities like “Heads Up” test student’s vocabulary skills, gardening can teach responsibility and help kids relax and being back in the classroom allows them to reconnect with friends and teachers they haven’t seen in more than a year.
“The priority might be on the academics, but really we want the priority to be on their well-being,” teacher Iliana Storch said. “(The students) love coming in the mornings (and) seeing their friends. I think the opportunity that they have to interact with their peers, not through a screen, but in person is really, really it was something that’s been missing.”
The program is funded by the ESSER Fund, as part of the Education Stabilization Fund in the Cares Act and a group of SAISD principals including Nungaray. Together they wanted to establish an academic plan that focused on getting the kids excited about school once again.
“We came together with the academic office and started putting together different ideas that we had about how we could use time with kids,” Nungaray said.
It’s also a chance for students to explore their new campuses for the first time and ease any anxieties they or their parents may have in relation to the pandemic.
“We have kids that are coming right into kinder, so they’ve never been to maybe our school before, and this is the first time that they’re getting introduced to our school and our teachers,” Nungaray said.
Through the federal funds, SAISD will also have an intercession in the fall and end of the school year.
“There’s an opportunity for us to keep engaging with kids in different ways outside of the box,” Nungaray said.