Community Spotlight: Summer learning with Teachers in the Park

September 2017

Teachers in the Park

Seven years ago, Exeter Township teacher Matthew Hathaway got a few teachers and kids together at a local park over the summer. Their goal was to combat the dreaded "summer slide" when students slip behind academically after several weeks out of school.

Fast forward to 2017, and the program known as Teachers in the Park is serving hundreds of students at different locations across this community.

"Children who don't bridge the summer gap lose about 25 percent of instructional time every single year," said Hathaway, who teaches fourth grade at this Berks County school district. "And that adds up."

By engaging kids in some fun summer learning at a park or a pool, Hathaway and his team of teachers have helped these students stay ahead academically and socially.

"The program benefits the whole child," said Karen DeNunzio, K-12 literacy coach at the Exeter Township School District. "… We are seeing students coming to school in August and September more confident as learners, and socially better with the relationships they have with both their peers and teachers."

Teachers who participate in the program are provided with guidelines on what to teach, but the "how" is left up to them, allowing them to be creative.

Teachers in the Park is ultimately about meeting children where they are and helping them to make gains at school and in life.

"Children don't want to be at school over the summer. And teachers don't either," Hathaway said. "But that doesn't mean that children don't want to learn and teachers don't want to teach."


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