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SummerBridge Helps Students Bridge Learning Gaps
Students and counselors practice forming a heart with their fingers.
Monday, July 25, 2022


 The SummerBridge Education Program is in full swing at the Bellevue Elementary School, teachers, interns, staff, and reading coaches encourage Blaine County elementary students with rigorous activities and educational lessons for the summer.

The SummerBridge Education Camp attenpts to fill the gaps of lost school days that elementary students have had because of COVID-19 during the past couple of years.

Interns and staff have come in through partnerships with the Blaine County School District, the YMCA, College of Idaho, the “I Have a Dream” Foundation-Idaho, Sun Valley Community School, Teach for America and Lee Pesky Learning Center to assist with these students and build bridges within their learning and social skills.

Youngsters got the opportunity to watch a fly-fisherman challenge trout in the Big Wood River during a field trip.

“This program makes school seem like a summer camp,” said Melissa Doramus, YMCA Associate Executive Director of Youth Development and Education for the SummerBridge Education Camp. “It’s important that they not just learn but have a great time.”

Students can arrive at 8 a.m. for breakfast and stay until 5:30 p.m. Their mornings are filled with educational interventions including literacy, math and English as a second language guided by certified BCSD teachers with help from YMCA interns and staff, followed by lunch and a STEAM Project led by the “I have a Dream” Foundation.

Many of these projects in the past few weeks have consisted of learning about nature, the solar system, the water cycle and more. Students have also taken part in field trips on Fridays where they’ve been able to implement what they’re learning.  

All grades rotate where they head off on Fridays, making it fun and exciting for all. SummerBridge has included trips to Craters of the Moon, the Herrett Center in Twin Falls and even Redfish Lake for their Friday field trips.

It wasn’t all mathematical equations and writing exercises.

“There are places in surrounding counties that don’t have the resources or the programs we have here to help grow and assist these kids,” said Tania Lopez, an “I Have a Dream” Foundation Program coordinator. “We are lucky to have a program with such care and support.”

Paige McNeil, director of youth development at the YMCA, and Melissa Doramus have newly been directing the program this summer, finding what works best for them and the kids.

Both have made it clear that the intervention programs were key as to why they wanted to jump in and guide it this year.

“Part of why I wanted to do this program was to bring focus to the intervention programs with the literacy and math sessions because of these gaps with COVID-19, '' Doramus said. “And the other part was in hopes this would bring joy to the kids.”

All interns and corresponding staff for the SummerBridge Education Camp took on a lengthy week before the start of the camp to prepare for the summer, having all staff members required to take online and in-person CPR training, learn new games, know what to do in an emergency and also create a safe environment for the kids.

The SummerBridge Education Camp is free and provides transportation and meals for the kids.

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