From Kitchen Kapers to fishing

PW-S summer school program is designed not only to reinforce academics but also give children experiences that could open their eyes to new interests

TEACHER BONNIE KELLER helped students make monkey bread muffins during the Port Washington-Saukville School District’s summer school Kitchen Kapers class on Monday. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

Smells of cinnamon and brown sugar filled the halls of Thomas Jefferson Middle School as summer school students made monkey bread muffins Monday morning. Kitchen Kapers is one of a collection of courses offered during the Port Washington-Saukville School District’s summer school program, which ran from June 13 to July 28.

“We like to provide a lot of options,” Thomas Jefferson Middle School Assistant Principal Jodi Swagel said. “We’re proud of our program and how it provides variety to our families.”

Swagel said the program is designed to explose children to a variety of experiences with classes that include Lego Creations, Kitchen Kapers and Fun in the Sun. New to the course catalog this year were Minecraft: Education Edition and Junior Paleontologists.

Students had their pick of the crop, taking four classes per session over two sessions.

“It allows students to test and experiment with things they haven’t seen before,” Swagel said. “It allows them to find a passion area. Maybe they’ll go home and say, ‘Hey, I want to try fishing. Can we do that as a family?’”

The district also offers classes in reading, writing and math to help drive academic progress with help from district specialists.

About 1,000 students in grades pre-kindergarten to eight enrolled in the program staffed by roughly 70 teachers.

With a quick transition from the regular school year into the summer months, recruiting teachers can be a challenge, Swagel said.

“We have a longstanding (relationship) with our own teachers, but also those from other districts to make sure we run a good program,” Swagel said. “It’s a big puzzle to get staff together.”

Many teachers like to capitalize on their summers off to go on vacations and spend time with family, Swagel said, which means she had to get “creative with our staffing and is lucky to have substitutes as well.” That flexibility allows the district to recruit enough teachers to offer a variety of quality courses, she said.

Since many of the program’s passion projects — like wrestling and fishing — can be found outside the classroom, Swagel likes to consider summer school to be a partnership between the school and the community.

“I really look at it as a partnership with the community,” Swagel said. “Whether it’s a passion area or academics, there’s a partnership.”


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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