The Muhlenberg School District developed MSD Summer Style in the Summer of 2021, with the idea of engaging students in project-based learning and allowing them to explore activities, hands on learning, and sports that they may have otherwise been unable to participate with during the school year. Federal ESSER funding provided the opportunity to build a nine week long program open to all district students at no charge, and enrollment has been at capacity in both 2021 and 2022.
The ESSER Relief Fund is just one way the U.S. government has stepped in to support schools throughout the COVID 19 pandemic. To date, Congress has passed six stimulus packages to provide assistance with economic fallout since the pandemic began, and three of the stimulus packages include money for elementary and secondary schools. The funding is called the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund.
“Our drive was to spend our ESSER dollars on those that matter the most, our kids! Each session was built on remediation, literacy, and STEM while offering our students continuity of education in a “camp-like” setting. Registration was open to all students entering grades 1 through 12, with a 2-week KinderCamp at the end of each summer. MSD Summer Style is completely free to our students, including breakfast, lunch, and transportation is provided. We welcomed nearly 2,000 of our students each summer!” said Dr. Cathy Shappell, Director of Federal Programs for the Muhlenberg School District.
Students experienced two blocks of learning: The CORE Block – a Problem-Based Approach to solving challenges & Social Emotional Learning through Team-Building; and The Get Involved! Block – an introduction to the many sports and activities that the Muhlenberg School District has to offer. The class options within the blocks include cooking, e-sports, Spanish as a second language, forensics, American Sign Language, swimming, and more in the areas of ‘Arts, Athletics, and Enrichment’.
Year over year, the district is seeing decreases in the phenomenon know as ‘summer slide’ in which students regress in their learning without access to educational activities over an extended period of time such as summer break. This proof of success is the fuel to keep the program going, and hopefully growing.
Who would have thought that, given the chance, so many students would choose to go to school in the summer?
“We truly think we offer something special to our students that is unique to Muhlenberg. The relationships we continue through the summer with our students show how passionate we are about our students, families, and our community,” added Shappell.