YMCA Summer Learning Academy helps to prevent learning loss over break

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 5, 2018

Academics in the summer? There are many people at the YMCA who believe it can be beneficial. Summer Learning Academy (SLA) kicked off last week. It is a free program funded through the YMCA’s annual giving campaign that gives lower income students a leg-up in their academics. It helps prepare students from kindergarten through fifth grade for their fall scholastic challenges. Ward Elementary is able to participate in the program because of the donations made this year from the Jerry Long YMCA.

“Ward Elementary is funded through the Clemmons Community Foundation through the Jerry Long Y. Because of that, SLA will be able to help students with learning loss and close the gap,” notes Roderick Howard, the Executive Director of YMCA Northwest. Howard points out how the program really focuses on the child as a whole. “These programs are designed to enrich the students socially, emotionally, academically, and we also offer swimming lessons. The swimming lessons will be held at the Jerry Long YMCA. We really try to focus on the whole student, not just the academic side.”

Mothers like Kelly Wharton recognize the delightful environment and opportunity. “The YMCA Summer Learning Academy is an awesome program. It is not your typical summer school that children normally have to attend because of academic scores. The program provides fun reading, math, and STEM activities that my son enjoys,” says Kelly. “He is excited to go every day.”

SLA at Ward lasts for five weeks, following educational modules assembled by a curriculum coordinator with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system. Breakfast, snacks and lunch are also provided for students who may not usually have food at home.

“It’s a big partnership with the school district and the local schools,” says Howard. “The teachers are really instrumental in helping.”

Sandi Scannelli, president and CEO of the Clemmons Community Foundation, says she sees the long-term importance of financially backing the program. “Not all students have the same opportunity to continue learning through the summer,” says Sandi. “Programs like the Summer Learning Academy help students retain and even build on skills and improved readiness when they start the new school year.”