Demand For Summer School May Be Up This Year, But Are Teachers Up For Working Those Classes?
School is wrapping up for students across the state, but not all of them will be done with learning.
Many in the education community have talked about the need to make up for some of the lessons that didn’t or couldn’t happen this past school year because of the disruptions caused by the pandemic.
At the same time, some students and teachers say they just need a break after the year they’ve had.
Leon Tynes is one of them. He’s a technology and computer science teacher at the Academy of Math and Science Desert Sky charter school in Phoenix, where he’s been the last three years; he’s been teaching for 12 years overall.
He said he spent a lot of his time this past year helping families figure out the technology they needed so their kids could attend remote school. Tynes said that means he was fielding calls and questions at pretty much all hours of the day and night.
"Being a tech teacher, and being in these educational spaces, I was doing so much that I normally don’t do," Tynes said. "Like last summer, my summer was cut short because all of a sudden, we had to make a shift and prepare for the upcoming school year, and I created videos with every single content area for all of our nine schools."
Tynes said he typically does a lot of work over the summer, between teaching and professional development. But he said not this year.
While Tynes said most of the teachers at his school have their summers planned, there are still going to be classrooms that need educators.
Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, said the decision on whether or not to teach summer school is an individual one for every teacher.
He doesn’t think there will be a problem finding enough teachers to work, but he understands why some may choose not to. And, he said, the need for more summer school this year might not be as acute as some originally thought.
"I’ve heard many people remark at how well their students are doing on the assessments this year. And we may have underestimated our students and their ability to learn, even amid all the distractions and the trauma they have experienced," Thomas said.
And Gabriel Trujillo is superintendent of the Tucson Unified School District.
His district is taking a different approach this summer, by adding a fifth academic quarter. He said all 86 campuses will be offering summer programs for all students, during the entire month of June.
Trujillo said in a typical summer, classes are offered at hub schools around the district, four days a week. But this summer, those classes will be five full school days a week. He’s calling it an “academic recovery opportunity.”
The Show spoke with these three educators and got each of their perspectives on how students and teachers should approach summer school this year.