In June, most people are enjoying time off from school and perhaps a summer vacation. But for some, like Sheila Wright, classes are still in session.
Wright, a second-grade teacher at Hettie Halstead Elementary School in Copperas Cove, has been an educator for 19 years. She’s one of 22 Cove ISD primary school teachers working this summer.
I recently had the opportunity to meet with Wright for a glimpse into day a summer school teacher’s day.
7:15 a.m.: Rise and shine
Wright reports to the campus bright and early to greet the students and ensure they have their morning breakfast in the cafeteria before heading to the classroom.
7:45 a.m.: Class in session
Once kids are settled in their seats, they play a warm-up game to get ready for the lessons.
“Summer school is just the opportunity for students that have not been successful during the regular school year,” Wright said. “It’s one more opportunity to make progress so they can be promoted to the next grade.”
The 13 days of summer school focus on the weakest areas for students — math and reading. Compared to a typical classroom filled with several dozen students, Wright only has six this summer session.
“I can spend all of my efforts getting to know where I need to fill in the gaps,” she said. “Since we have a small class they get a lot of one-on-one attention.”
About 140 students are attending summer school sessions at Hettie Halstead Elementary.
8 a.m.: Role-playing
Wright provides the students with manipulative tools such as flash cards to help them ease into the material. During her math lesson, students learn how to count money and tell time. Wright said the children become very creative when solving the math problems.
“The students want to relate whatever the problem is to themselves,” she said. “So they relate it to a movie they’ve seen or video games to make the connection.”
Every 20 minutes, students are given time to stand up and stretch their legs in the classroom.
8:45 a.m.: Individualized learning
As the school day approaches the second hour, the students are placed into pairs to demonstrate what they’ve learned.
“Telling time this morning, I could see students were struggling,” Wright said.
During the final half hour of the first class session, students are given a handful of math problems to help Wright decide if she needs to go over the lesson again or move forward.
9:30 a.m.: Recess
Students head out to the playground to run off some of the energy they’ve built up in the classroom. They spend their free time creating games, Wright said.
“They create these games by making a castle out of the playground equipment,” she said. “They have teams to protect the castle and use the jungle gym to capture people.”
The rules for the game become really elaborate, but Wright notices strong bonds and interaction among the boys and girls.
9:45 a.m.: Switching classes
After recess, the students are guided to another classroom to meet the reading teacher. Back in her classroom, Wright welcomes another set of six students to teach her daily math lesson.
Like the first group, the new students begin with a warm-up activity before Wright tests their number skills.
The group quickly picked up on the material, giving them more time to do other math-related activities.
“It was exciting to see in the second group that they were ready to use the actual clock in the classroom,” Wright said.
11:15 a.m.: Time to eat
Once the students complete the day’s lesson, it’s time to eat. They head to the cafeteria for some free lunch before going home. Wright wraps her day by logging the students’ individual assessments and intervention documents. The complete assessment is sent back the students’ schools to be reviewed by their next teachers.
Noon: School’s out
Wright’s summer school day is over, and so is mine. I head out into the hot afternoon, feeling just a little bit smarter.