There’s a different feeling at the school in the month of November. Escuela de Vacaciones started on October 24 and ended November 23. Since this was outside of the regular school year, the set up at the School of Hope looked different. Our students were divided into teams, each with a flag and an assigned team captain (one of the teachers). The teams had students from different class sections and grades, giving everyone the opportunity to make new friends. The captains escorted their teams to different stations throughout the day. The stations ranged from traditional math, reading and technology classes to more extracurricular activities like cooking, football and theater.
This year’s goals for Escuela de Vacaciones were to support students in academic areas such as math and reading while giving them opportunities to enjoy new experiences and gain new motivations. This was especially important this year after two years of at home learning.
Throughout the month we worked hard with our students to raise their reading and math levels and have seen big improvements. The team captains were pleasantly surprised to witness our students learn new ways to destress and discover new passions. We were surprised at how many students enjoyed the cooking class and now have a new hobby to pursue. Not so surprising, the team captains saw the motivation sports had on our students. For some the main reason they attended classes were for the opportunity to play football and basketball. The second to last day of Escuela de Vacaciones honored that drive in our students and was a Sports Day!
The school transition for the last week and a half of programming, ending a little differently than it started. The students stayed in their teams but the stations focussed on holiday activities. Throughout the school you heard many different songs, some from the zumba class, Christmas carols, the making of musical instruments and the background music for performances.
The last day of our Escuela de Vacaciones was a day of presentations! All the students showcased the crafts they had been working on, the new skills they learned, the carols they loved and the choreography they came up with for this final showcase of the year.
This school year was especially tough but also one of the most exciting. Each time a COVID restriction was lifted you could feel the whole school exhale with relief and in the same breathe become giddy with excitement. We were able to finally have our students back in person, even if it was only half days and half the classes to start. Then July brought us back to full days at school! And finally in October we were able to take off our masks. With each change our team adapted to give our students the best educational experience possible.
This year also showcased the damage that COVID caused our students. Each grade took longer to adjust back to school and all test scores were lower than our average normal. Again, our staff saw the challenges and adjusted to meet the needs of our students. Which is one of the many reasons this year's Escuela de Vacaciones was so very important to our students.
Escuela de Vacaciones is a place to do more creative learning strategies, giving our students a space to learn while also experimenting with different ideas and topics. As the program comes to a close for the year, we reflect back on 2022. We could have never done any of these impactful strategies with our students without the support of our EFTC family. Thank you for all you do for the School of Hope!