TroyAugust 2, 2012
Nature 101 stops ‘summer slide’
By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer
Crawling critters, dirt and rocks are tools educators will use to boost critical skills for elementary school kids, with the aim to stop summer slide back in its tracks.
This is the second summer that students in the Troy School District’s Title I summer school program — available free of charge to students that teachers feel would benefit — will travel to the Lloyd A. Stage Nature Center for summer programs. The federal Title I program also funds free and reduced lunches for students in the district.
Laura Taitt, volunteer coordinator for the Troy Nature Society, said 160 students in kindergarten through fourth grade from Morse and Wattles elementary schools who were identified as at risk of failing to meet core curriculum standards are participating in the summer school program this year.
Curriculum components include segments in which students will gain an understanding of aquatic life at the pond on site at the nature center; discover the importance of insects to other animals, plants and people; and be introduced to advanced ecological sciences, rocks minerals, fossils, sand and soil.
Christin Silagi, Morse Elementary summer school program supervisor, said the program continues to feature a strong focus on math and language.
“While we used to try to stop the summer backslide, our new goal is to have the students progress during the summer,” Silagi said. To that end, the staff “tightened up” the program from last year.
The program is focused reading, math, independent time and computer-based instruction. The student-staff ratio is 4-1 or less, Silagi said.
During independent time, students can work on crafts, check out library books, read, or work on math or reading assignments with help of Troy School District high school students.
The Troy Nature Society was awarded nonprofit status last year, and the city of Troy turned over operations of the nature center building, which remains city property, to the group. Roger Kowalski, board member of the Troy Nature Society, said the group’s goal was to maintain programming and availability to the public.
He said the group looks forward to building on the success of the first year.
“We’re looking forward to continue to collaborate on programs with the Troy School District,” he added.
Troy Nature Society board member Ann Neuser said the group started with 68 charter members and has grown to 170.
“We’re still growing,” she said.
A grant from the Kelly Services Foundation, and donations from TCF Bank of Troy and the Lambda Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa, a sorority comprising educators, helped to fund the summer school program.
For information on the Troy Nature Society or the Lloyd A. Stage Nature Center, call (248) 688-9703 or visit www.troy naturesociety.org. The nature center and 100-acre nature preserve are located at 6685 Coolidge.
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