School may be out, but the work continues for many charter schools throughout New York and Connecticut! These schools are putting in overtime to beat the summer slide, offering extended school years and programs aimed at keeping students engaged as the temperatures rise. Here's how Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School put in work over the summer to best serve its scholars!
Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School, affectionately known as BuffSci to students, families, and staff, prides itself on providing a great education to any and all students who pass through its doors -- but it’s not always easy as some kids have some catching up to do once they’re admitted via lottery. That’s where BuffSci’s summer program comes in, and as Dean of Students Kelly Wilczak tells us, by working overtime during the summer, scholars at all academic levels are served.
Buffalo Academy of Science Charter (BuffSci) has three tiers of summer programming. One is your traditional summer school, which is remedial programming for kids who did not pass during the academic year and who need to catch up and pass to move up in school.
There’s also a program for students who have done really well during the academic year, so the school invites them to take part in some Regents classes during the summer to accelerate their learning. For instance, they can take the Regents exams in August and if they pass, they would be able to take classes a year ahead of schedule. This helps advanced students get a real mastery of the Regents classes.
But it’s the program for new kids, the Bridge Program, which sets BuffSci apart. When students are accepted via lottery, the school holds a Saturday session where students are invited for an assessment called STAR Reading and Math Assessment on Renaissance Learning. It’s there that their skills are analyzed and educators can best decide what work will be necessary to do during the summer Bridge Program to get them ready for the first official day of school in September.
“Will they be ready for the start of the year? Do they know how to read and write?” Wilczak says they ask of incoming students, adding, “We have kids coming in from all over Buffalo... we have to get them all ready and on the same page.”
She continued, “We contact parents about summer learning right away after a student is admitted. Parents are usually very receptive; they’re so excited their child got in in the first place -- about 98 percent of our students attend. Students build their ELA (English Language Arts) and Math skills during our summer session, and they also get acclimated to the school environment. Another nice component: teachers who teach Bridge are the students’ teachers during the school year. Because of this summer program, we know where they stand on the first official day of school. Teachers know where they should begin their lessons on Day 1.”
The summer program runs five days a week for four weeks, and is free to all students. Now in its 10th year, Wilczak says the program, has proven to be very successful. She said results are starting to come in and she is very happy about the progress the school has made with its scholars.
“We are trying to keep up with a school like City Honors. However, and as you know, we don’t handpick our students upon their acceptance; we meet them where they are and then work to get them ahead," Wilczak says.
The best part is -- the kids reportedly love the summer program, which provides enrichment and a safe haven. Wilczak says, “We have kids who love the program so much they say they don’t even want to go home at the end of the day!”
She continued, “I also just got an email from a parent saying thank you to all the staff for making my daughter’s experience a great one. I feel secure knowing she will succeed. See you in September.”
It’s messages like that coupled with scholars’ successes that Wilczak and her colleagues say makes this summer work all worthwhile.