LEAP Program Helps Students Over Summer Slide

The Summer LEAP, or Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress, continues through August ahead of school starting back up in September. Pictured are Love Elementary School students at Midway State Park last week. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

Students in the Jamestown Public Schools District continue to leap over the summer slide.

On a field trip at Midway State Park recently, students from Love Elementary School were about to enjoy a day of fun, a reward for their work through the expanded summer literacy program.

“Phenomenal,” said Sierra Cross, Love LEAP coordinator, when asked how she would describe the summer program.

Across Chautauqua County, about 400 Jamestown elementary students were on a field trip somewhere. As part of the summer JPS LEAP, or Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress, program those students also receive literacy enrichment throughout the week. And as an incentive, Fridays are designated for some form of a field trip.

The scheduled summer trips include traveling to the Erie Zoo, Midway State Park, Presque Isle State Park, the Audubon Community Nature Center, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute for Natural History and other outdoors walking field trips at each individual school.

The purpose of the program is to combat what’s referred to as the summer slide when students take months off from literacy risking the loss of what they learned from the previous school year.

This year, the Winifred Crawford Dibert Boys and Girls Club of Jamestown provides services for Lincoln Elementary School; the YWCA covers both Fletcher and Bush Elementary schools; and the YMCA manages Ring and Love elementary schools. Each of the five Jamestown elementary schools are undergoing the summer program in partnership with the local agencies.

“The goal is to minimize the summer slide,” said Danielle Russell, JPS K-12 literacy coordinator, who has visited each site this summer.

District teachers, serving as literacy interventionists, have been giving group lessons four days week for students in the summer program. Students work on phonemic awareness, sight words, guided reading including fluency and comprehension. The progress of the students is also tracked in order to observe any increases in their literacy levels.

Russell said, in the past, students typically maintain their literacy level or exceed their standing at the start of the next school year.

The literacy intervention is provided by 30 Jamestown teachers with six staff members at each school.

Russell said the services provided by the local partners complement the literacy enrichment for the remainder of the day. The students are at each site for a full day five days a week. Last year, the three schools involved in the program only had the students for half days.

The program is an expansion of Jamestown’s summer literacy program that was in place for several years. A major difference between the two iterations is the sheer amount of students that are included. LEAP is currently offering summer literacy and enrichment to the 430 enrolled students compared to the 134 students that were involved last summer.

The program was announced in March 2018 at a community forum meeting inside the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown by Dr. Bret Apthorpe, JPS superintendent.

Russell and Cross emphasized the importance of the local partnerships, expanded enrollment and the district-provided transportation as an added bonus to the program.

Russell believes the district’s effort to provide transportation is the primary reason enrollment has increased.

The program will continue to Aug. 23 each week Monday through Friday at each of the schools.

On the first day of the summer program Jeff Kroon, Boys and Girls Club executive director, and Apthorpe said the goal was to combine literacy and fun.

Last week, as a result of their literacy work, students were reaping one side of the benefits from LEAP.