Final Thoughts from Summer School

Migrant Education Summer School is now over and though I only went for a few days a week I found it to be a constantly changing, occasionally frustrating, but overall worthwhile experience. The Summer School had 214 students of 12 different nationalities and averaged a 90 percent attendance rate. This is pretty remarkable considering that the Summer School is voluntary and there are numerous guidelines and restrictions just to qualify. Yet the desire to be a part of Summer School has never been greater.  

There were of course challenges and disappointments during my time at Summer School. I was slightly disappointed that none of the 7th graders wanted to research the upcoming presidential election – an idea that I brought up that and that I would have been primarily in charge of. But, I understand that when presented with the option to research a sea creatures or Hillary Clinton, the sea creatures will always win out. I was also shocked to learn from the teacher I worked with that many of the kids in the class had likely never finished a chapter book before. This surprised me because I remember reading chapter books all the time in 5th grade and I assumed that’s what everyone did as well. This revelation forced me to adjust my expectations and my plans for the kids. It was also challenging to deal with the lack of focus many of the kids had due to a few who caused disruptions in the classroom. I understand that it is summer and going back to school may not be the most fun, but many of the kids were constantly distracted, sidetracked, or just not engaged. This was all despite our best attempts to do some fairly interesting and dynamic activities such as building a geospheric dome and gathering data through games.

These issues did not prevent me from learning from and with the kids. Having the opportunity at Summer School to observe these current Middle school students and understand what their perspective on the world was the most enjoyable and helpful aspect of Summer School for me. I’ve learned about schools in Adams county, the role of social media on many students’ lives, odd fads like flipping water bottles, and some of the benefits and difficulties of being a minority student in rural Pennsylvania. It was great to see that a majority of student were consistently excited to come to summer school and its evident, through the number of returning students year after year, that this excitement is not the exception.

Nate Kumar