BRANDYWINE HUNDRED – With school scheduled to start in less than a month, a group of students got a head start on the classroom experience at St. Edmond’s Academy earlier this month. They were part of “Academic Boot Camp,” the idea of a teacher at the all-boys school.
Now in its second year, the camp was open to boys and girls in third through eighth grades. Its intention was to give the students a chance to do some fun learning and get used to being back in school in a fun atmosphere. The teachers are all friends of Ellis and come from St. Edmond’s, Salesianum and Sanford schools.
“They’re all in certain places in getting their master’s degrees,” Ellis said of the participating educators. “Either they have a master’s or they’re obtaining it. It’s a really talented group. None of them are over 32 years old, so it’s a young group. They’re energetic, and they work their tails off.”
The classes touch on different subjects, and in the upper grades touch on independent learning. The students also have the opportunity to work on any summer requirements they have for their schools. The curriculum was left largely up to the individual teachers.
“I told the upper-level teachers, ‘Give me your five best lessons.’ Every teacher has his go-to lesson. Any way you want to do them. There’s no curriculum, there’s no homework. Just be creative,” Ellis said, adding that he wanted the students to be engaged and enthusiastic.
The younger grades were added to the camp this year. Jocelyn Delaney, a second-grade teacher at St. Edmond’s, worked with her partner at the school, Juliana McClellan. They had their students read a grade-level test, then focused on vocabulary words above that level. They worked on grammar and writing a narrative.
“The cool thing about a writers’ workshop is that you give a mini-lesson focusing on that target skill, and then the students take that skill and apply it into their writing that day.
“We’re going to focus on a memory from the summer, and our goal is to have them write a paragraph about one small moment,” Delaney said. “So you focus on the details of something that you did this summer.”
They also had their students work on math, including fractions and multiplication. Delaney said she didn’t mind spending two weeks at school toward the end of her summer vacation.
“Once August comes around, for most teachers it’s like the Sunday of summer. You know it’s coming, so it’s nice to start getting our feet wet as well. It’s a jumpstart for the kids, and it’s a jumpstart for us,” she said.
Twenty students entering seventh through ninth grades participated in the first week, and another 20 fifth- and sixth-graders were scheduled for the second. A dozen girls and boys entering third and fourth grades were scheduled to attend in the second week.