Teacher interns impart and receive learning in summer camp
A summer camp aimed at helping public schoolchildren catch up on their reading skills recently provided an opportunity for four aspiring teaching interns to gain professional experience.
The three-week programme which finished last Friday is a continuation of a partnership between the Bermuda Education Network and the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, and was this year expanded to include art lessons by the Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation.
For the first time, the programme was taught from the Bermuda High School’s new Innovation Centre.
Becky Ausenda, founder and executive director for BEN, said: “This is the third year that we have been running a summer learning programme focusing on catching up students who may be a little behind on reading.
“We have a focus on reading, because about 50 per cent of children in the public school system are not achieving proficiency by the time they finish and that is something that we are extremely concerned about.
“We wanted to invest some of our resources to provide some extra services.
“Our strategy for providing these services is to add reading tutoring to a summer camp. We hired a team of tutors, many of whom have experience of the Orton-Gillingham Approach which supports children with dyslexia.
“They pull out children from the camp to do one-on-one tutoring which I think this is a really effective strategy.
“This year we have decided to collaborate with the Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation to bring in more arts.”
Cheryl Hastings is providing the art lessons for KAF and play therapy under her business Creative Rumpus.
Ms Ausenda added: “Everybody here has been hired by BEN. There are two very experienced classroom teachers who are doing their own lessons – Jeanna-Mae Furbert who is teaching language arts and Natalie Roberts who is also doing language arts and tutoring.
“The camp director is Kelly Rodday and we have four interns – Jaishelbi Johnston, Victoria Mello, Morgan Kempe and Alexandra Calauro. Three of the four interns are studying at university. It is so important to give people who are in teacher training programmes this really valuable experience.”
The programme has been funded through grants from the Centennial Bermuda Foundation, the Allan and Gill Gray Philanthropy Initiative, and Fortitude Re.
Jaishelbi Johnston: “I think this is a really awesome opportunity, I really enjoy working with professional teachers who have taught here for years at different schools as well as the other interns who are studying education. It is a really fun environment. It’s great having the Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation here to give that hands on activity and it shows other ways for lessons to be reinforced – the art lessons cover the stories that we do in class so the kids get the left brain and right brain approach.”
Victoria Mello: “I love being in the classroom, it’s so hands-on and you can see the change in the children. When you look at their workbooks at the beginning and see their progress it’s is really cool. We are filling in some gaps – with Covid and them not having a full year, writing has definitely taken a toll – they are always on the computer so they don’t learn those writing skills.”
Morgan Kempe: “Having students from a range of schools in Bermuda has shown me how different kids learn and how each one needs different types of attention. The teachers here are really great and have shown me how to teach different things like behaviour management and how to keep the classroom calm and under control. I have learned a lot from the kids – they have helped me realise what works in the classroom and how to help them get the most out of each lesson.”
Alexandra Calauro: “This has been so helpful, it has really helped me to figure out what I want to do. I want to be a literacy specialist – a teacher that works one-on-one with students in a public or private school for the kids who need a little bit of extra help and want to further learn some of the concepts that we have started building on here like the word study, transcription, fluency, dictation.”
Ms Rodday explained that the children selected for the programme were approaching grade level and needed a little assistance to push them up to grade level.
“The children do not have major learning disabilities. We are just giving them an extra push maybe because of the disruption caused by Covid, or because of younger birth dates and other factors,” she explained.
“We have had a lot of progress, it has been amazing. One little boy came up to me and showed me that he had jumped from reading 22 words in a minute to 52 accurately and correctly. After three weeks it is amazing, it is helping.
“The Innovation Centre is the nicest place I have ever worked in. In a typical classroom you have four walls and maybe a corner you can pull kids out but to have flexibility but here we have breakout rooms to do one-on-one tutoring in soundproof rooms so the kids can really hear the sounds without any distractions.
“A lot of kids fall through the cracks because their parents don’t have enough money to get them assessed earlier or hire tutors which are expensive. To have this service for free is a huge step in the right direction. If, as an island, we want our kids to be successful we need to give them more programmes like this.”
Ms Rodday added that more practical training programmes for teachers were needed in Bermuda.
For more information on the Bermuda Education Network visit www.bermudaeducationnetwork.com