Cruiser Connect – a new approach to summer school

By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Groveport Madison officials and teachers are seeking to enhance students’ education in a different way this summer with the district’s Cruiser Connect Summer Experience program.

“While we’ve offered summer school in various formats in the past, this is the first year for Cruiser Connect,” said Groveport Madison Superintendent Garilee Ogden. “Our approach to the program is unlike what we’ve done before. It will be far more interactive and fun.”

According to district officials, Cruiser Connect will take place in several schools throughout the district: Asbury Elementary, Dunloe Elementary, Groveport Elementary, Middle School North, Middle School South, and Groveport Madison High School.

The purpose of the program is to support students’ academic and social-emotional growth and development.

“The past year was hard for kids,” said Ogden. “This isn’t typical summer school of years past and students won’t be working on their computers. They’ll be working in small groups, face-to-face, with a teacher and with their classmates.”

Ogden said some work will occur in classrooms and some of it will take place outside.

“We’ve worked hard to make sure that it’s interactive and fun because we know kids need something different from what they’ve been doing for the past year.”

Ogden said the past 15 months of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for some children. She said that before March 12, 2020, students were accustomed to the routines and predictability of life – a regular school day and face-to-face interactions with friends and family.

The coronavirus pandemic disrupted all of that.

“(Prior to the pandemic) while computers were used as an instructional learning tool, students saw their teachers face-to-face every day,” said Ogden. “They were accustomed to working in small groups with their peers, giving live in-class presentations, and dealing with the normal day-to-day interactions in which they gain essential social skills. They also had the benefit of receiving immediate emotional support from classmates and the school’s staff.”

In addition to small-group, face-to-face instruction, Ogden said students this summer will have counselors who will lead activities to help students reconnect with one another.

“With Cruiser Connect, we hope to create a bridge back to normalcy for our students so that they’re academically and socially prepared to resume school in the ‘new normal’ world we’re now living in,” said Ogden.

According to district officials, 1,253 students have enrolled in Cruiser Connect across all grade levels.

“We invited all Groveport Madison students to attend,” said Ogden. “We made a special effort to reach out to families whose children would most benefit from the program.We’re very excited that 100 teachers have signed up to provide services for the Cruiser Connect Summer Experience.”

Cruiser Connect runs from 9 a.m. to noon daily beginning June 14 and running through July 16 (with July 2 and 5 off for the Independence Day holiday). Students will get breakfast and lunch daily, and bus transportation will be provided to any students who needs it.

Ogden said the program is funded from federal funds received through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund). The federal government established the ESSER Fund as part of the Education Stabilization Fund in the CARES Act.

“In addition, Governor Mike DeWine asked schools and districts to work with their communities to help students advance and make up for any learning that may have been lost or delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Ogden. “He requested that schools and districts design plans to meet the needs of students that could include, but are not limited to, ending the school year later than scheduled, beginning the new year early or extending the school day. Summer programs, tutoring or remote options also could be considered.”

Ogden expects Cruiser Connect to be a success.

“What we expect to see from participants are children who feel prepared, confident, and reconnected when they start (the next school year) on Aug. 16,” said Ogden.

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