In the midst of summer fun, many children may forget the things they learned during the school year.
But last spring, Brett Snyder, the Goodwin Elementary site director for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Trident Area, heard from teachers that the school's Hispanic students were having trouble with their English after only a week of spring break.
So after the break, he began to plan a summer English program so that Hispanic students could retain the information they learned from their English as a Second Language classes. Over the next six weeks, he worked with Troy Strother, director of program development at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Trident Area, to enlist volunteers and find funding.
Snyder enrolled 28 Hispanic students, ages 6-10, from Goodwin Elementary. These students were hand-selected by their ESL teachers as those who needed extra help.
Hillary Green, Jack Awtrey, Sara Burton and Crystal Androsky, all Goodwin teachers, created lesson plans and helped out.
College of Charleston students Emily Robinson and Kevin Cobb, who are fluent in Spanish, also volunteered their services to help teachers and staff communicate with parents.
Snyder had one rule for the students at the Collins Park camp: No one was allowed to speak Spanish while the program was in session.
Androsky, a kindergarten teacher at Goodwin who also helps with the Boys and Girls Clubs' after-school program, said most Hispanic children at Goodwin come from homes where English is seldom spoken. She also said that some parents have a hard time reading and writing English, and that leaves the children to fend for themselves on homework.
At the start of the camp, students were given assessment tests based on phonics and pronunciation for the younger students, or reading and comprehension for the older ones. They were then assessed every week.
The goal, Androsky said, was "to have either a maintaining of their level or an improvement."
Students also participated in fun learning activities. They started every day with a story and read several versions, including those with Spanish roots, of fairy and folk tales so they could compare them. The students made props and put on plays so they could recall things they had read. Snyder said the students used learning activity stations; volunteers at each station gave them one-on-one attention.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey visited one day. Peruvian folk group Sol de Oro performed another day.
Strother expressed confidence that the program would get funding next year.
As the first day of school nears, Snyder and the rest of the volunteers from the Boys and Girls Clubs are confident that the 28 Hispanic students in the program at Goodwin will begin the year with the language skills they need.
"The progress that these kids make really gives you a sense of joy and accomplishment. It's just that warm and fuzzy kind of feeling that you get when you help someone else," Snyder said.