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 Learning Doesn’t Stop for Summer at SDCOE

Learning is in full swing this summer for many San Diego County Office of Education programs — from special education schools to Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS).

"All of our students need to be engaged in meaningful, relevant work," JCCS Principal Joel Spengler said.

Davila Day School

Bugs and the outdoors was the summer theme at Davila Day School, which serves students who are Deaf or hard of hearing in preschool through 6th grade. Ms. Smarty-Plants of the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College visited the school with a milkweed plant that was home to several caterpillars that will soon become butterflies. Davila students also spent time observing an ant farm and mealworms, as well as tending to their garden plot on the campus they share with Vista Square Elementary.

North County Academy

North County Academy Principal Stephen Gotowala said their extended school year is focused on preventing a summer slide in academics or therapeutic needs in a smaller environment under a less rigorous schedule. The K-12 school serves students with mental health issues. The summer session increases the school's focus on building positive relationships between students and staff members while also taking advantage of opportunities to combine classroom instruction and academics with field trips and outdoor activities.

Juvenile Court and Community Schools

Throughout JCCS, students have been busy holding exhibitions, getting career technical education experience in theatre and horticulture, visiting community colleges, fundraising, and experimenting with new technology.

San Pasqual Academy hosted its Summer Bridge program for incoming 9th-graders, who earned five high school credits by participating in sessions like High School 101, Literacy Boot Camp, Pre-Employment Traineeship, and Microsoft Office Suite.

A summer highlight for year-round Monarch School has been hosting visitors from Qualcomm for Thinkabit-style STEM lessons with 6th-graders. Students learned how to build circuits and understand electric currents. A group of girls from Monarch also participated in a weeklong Rock 'n' Roll Camp July 23 to 27 at the House of Blues in San Diego.

Technical Theatre Camp

For the fourth straight year, JCCS and Probation have partnered to send students to Technical Theatre Camp at La Jolla Playhouse. This year, students from San Diego SOAR Academy's Camp Barrett and Girls Rehabilitation Facility sites participated as well as students from La Mesa Community School. Each day they got hands-on experience working with professionals on various aspects of technical theater such as set construction, scenic design, and costume design.

San Diego SOAR Academy

While San Diego SOAR Academy's sites run year-round, summer is time to add a few exciting experiences.

At Camp Barrett, there's a new peer mediation training program and students are continuing participation in Project AWARE Emotional Intelligence Development training. The Barrett team is especially excited for Career Day on Aug. 2. Speakers have been carefully selected to match careers in which students have expressed interest.

Students at East Mesa held an art exhibition in July, and a horticulture elective is set to start soon.

Site Administrator Nathan Head said the team at East Mesa uses summer to think creatively about how to engage students and get to know them better.

"Relationships are everything, and summer lends itself to making connections with students while continuing to work towards graduation," Head explained.

Community Schools

Bayside Community School students are participating in the Playwrights Project and will adapt their writing into a video using iMovie. They're also planning a field trip to hike at Torrey Pines State Reserve.

Second Chance Community School students are working on a career exploration course that includes a career interest survey and field trips to local colleges where they will explore automotive, culinary, and medical programs.

In the JCCS North Region, students from Reflections YDC North's Seekers Club played kickball for a cause, raising money for Alzheimer's San Diego. The Seekers also tried their hand at carpentry, learning some basic tool safety and constructing a table to hold their art cabinet.

Over in Vista at Innovations Academy of Empowerment, career technical education instructor Justin Bond led the Innovations Brazers Cup, a competition and exhibition showcasing students' projects. Brazing is much like welding, using heat to join dissimilar metals; the process is used in plumbing and HVAC work. Another exhibition showcased a 3-D printing project called The Seedling Container. Students sketched original designs on paper and used an online 3-D design tool called Tinkercad to create self-watering seedling containers. 

Photo: Students at Davila Day School enjoy a visit from Ms. Smarty-Plants of the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College.