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Shelley Adkins, middle right, headed a summer school class in a LEGO-building exercise.

The St. Joseph School District is planning to update aspects of the Summer Journey program introduced last year.

Catapult Learning’s Summer Journey program has the company sending curriculum and materials to the St. Joseph School District to use for summer school activities.

This past summer was the district’s first opportunity to utilize these resources, and the results spoke for themselves: The program attracted 4,883 students (up from 2,652 in 2018) and exceeded $250,000 in surplus revenue. Last summer, students attended for a total of 116 hours, and with the upcoming year, the district is looking to increase that to 138 hours, resulting in a higher surplus going into next summer.

“We heard from our teachers and parents that they enjoyed the engaging curriculum, the materials that came with that curriculum and the opportunities available for kids,” Dr. Michele Norman, director of elementary education, said.

However, a few changes will be made for this coming summer’s program, which will run Monday through Friday, starting on May 27, 2020, and ending on June 26.

“Parents indicated a desire to for their kids to have recess and active play, so we’re going to build in recess time, and we’re also going to build in some plan time for our teachers because they mentioned that … they need time to prep those materials for students,” Norman said. “I think it’ll give them an opportunity to utilize the materials and be more prepared for students.”

The district also hopes to push a “Grow Your Own” initiative this summer, which involves identifying students in middle and high school who may be interested in becoming teachers and having them help out during Summer Journey, be it monitoring halls or younger students during recess.

The district also is partnering with Missouri Western to engage the university’s students in Summer Journey, providing a foot in the door for potential educators.

“We kind of look at it kind of ... like an internship in the business world where they can come and spend time with us in the summer and we get to know them, they get to know us, and hopefully they have a good experience with the St. Joseph School District and would be interested in working for us when they complete their degree,” Norman said.

She went on to say that Catapult Learning has multiple courses through Summer Journeys, and the district plans to bring back popular courses that resonated with students and teachers, along with some new ones for summer 2020.

Daniel Cobb can be reached

at daniel.cobb@newspressnow.com.

Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowCobb.