Virtual Summer Program Engages Students through Hands-on Activities

EL MONTE – El Monte City School District engaged 985 students in transitional kindergarten through seventh grade in a virtual Summer Academy that included such hands-on classes as cooking, musical theater, crochet and American Sign Language.

“This year’s summer school may be virtual, but it also represents some of the most creative and educationally intensive programs we’ve ever offered,” Superintendent Dr. Maribel Garcia said. “Summer learning programs are incredibly important in helping to ensure students remain engaged even when school is out. Students who participate in these programs get a real benefit when the regular school year begins.”

Christa Trostle, coordinator of the 2020 EMCSD Summer Academy, said the shift to virtual learning allowed her to expand offerings from the traditional program, which focused on musical theater and science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) fields.

“Over 40 EMCSD teachers designed courses that showcase their personal skills and talents,” Trostle said. “Providing instruction in a virtual setting allowed us to connect students of similar interests and customize their summer classes to provide a wide range of learning experiences.”

Another shift this year was the specific inclusion of students in the District’s dual language program, including those in transitional kindergarten. While dual-language students have participated in previous programs, it wasn’t possible to offer instruction in the dual-language format.

The Academy ran through July 17, with some classes running for a single week and others for multiple weeks, depending on the topic.

Assistant Principal Juan Flores, for example, taught a class that allowed students to tackle math concepts in a variety of different contexts – such as through word problems – so they can become more comfortable with the subject.

“We want to expose the kids to multiple representations of numbers in different contexts so they can become more agile in math,” he said. “These techniques help boost confidence in math, whether students are auditory or visual learners.”