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Sparta's Summer Brain Camp Strengthens Young Students' Skills

TAP into Sparta Staff

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 • 3:35pm

SPARTA, NJ - Sparta Township Public Schools introduced Brain Camp for the first time this summer. The four-week program that ran from July 7 through Aug. 1 was designed as an early intervention program for qualified students. Students who participated will enter first or second grade in September 2014.

 A co-teaching model was used with two certified teachers in each classroom. Two sessions were offered at each grade level, with sessions lasting two hours each. A total of 57 students were enrolled.

The goal of Brain Camp was twofold. The program focused on recouping, maintaining, and strengthening students’ academic skills in reading and writing over the summer and preparing students for the new school year.

Shared reading and writing, independent and guided reading and writing, phonological awareness and word study were all part of the experience. The staff implementing multi-sensory reading instruction and brain workouts to engage the students and support their learning. 

The program was deemed a success by staff early-on when students’ displayed academic growth. During the last week, several students expressed their sadness that the program was coming to a close.  When the last day of camp arrived, students shared some of their favorite camp activities.  They were:  “Everything”, “Reading and Writing”, “Red Words and Sand”, “Learning new songs”, “Morning Message”, and “Brain Workouts.” 

Parents and guardians of the students who attended were also encouraged to share their feedback about the program to assist with its further development and success in the years to come. The parent feedback received was thoughtful and encouraging to the entire Brain Camp staff.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Melissa Varley said, “The staff whole heartedly accepted this new endeavor with vigor. At any point when I visited the classrooms, students were immersed in reading and writing.”

Varley went on to say how grateful she was for Leala Baxter who spearheaded the project with significant direction from Marybeth Kopacz. On any given day, you could find Alpine Principal Joe Leone at the high school working with the teachers. Varely said, “Without the commitment from all, this would not have been a successful project.” 

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