Story and photo by Andrea Sutherland
Although students from Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 don’t officially start school until Aug. 9, about 50 children are already prepping for classes.
For the second year the school district offered its “Jump Start” program to students going into second-fifth grades, allowing them time to build their reading and math skills.
“This program is designed to catch the kids who are at grade level or just a little bit below grade level who need just a little bit more practice and confidence so they’re ready to start the school year,” said Jamilyn Hoehn, Jump Start and special education instructor at Weikel Elementary School.
Hoehn said teachers selected students at the end of the 2011-2012 school year to participate in the program, sending letters home to parents encouraging them to allow their children to participate. After a day of testing, students were divided into small groups based on their skill level and for two hours, five days per week for two weeks, worked with teachers on reading and math.
“I definitely think this is instrumental in helping students,” Hoehn said. “It builds confidence so they feel that they can do this. They can really take off.”
Amber Parris said she enrolled her son in the program to help him prepare for school.
“This helps him with his reading skills, but also with socialization and getting into that mindset for school,” she said.
Victoria Lawson said the program and teachers have helped her daughter with reading.
“They noticed that she was a little behind and they’re correcting it and getting her the help she needs,” she said. “(The teachers) have gone above and beyond.”
Although building reading and math skills was the main goal, instructors in the Jump Start program said building confidence and establishing a routine for the students was also essential.
“This helps with behaviors,” said Cassidy Poole, Jump Start and fourth grade teacher. “It helps to get them into the groove of learning.”
Noah Pogar, Jump Start and first grade teacher, said he’s already seen progress with his students in the program.
“I think that the biggest struggle is building confidence,” he said.
Pogar worked with students going into the fifth grade on their reading comprehension, focusing on fluency and accuracy.
“I’ve already noticed improvements,” he said. “I think their confidence will be up by quite a bit by the time school begins.”