Wiesbaden students have fun, continue learning during vacation
August 10, 2009
WIESBADEN, Germany - While many U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden teachers and youths enjoyed time away from school during summer vacation, a group of dedicated instructors and students explored "Mysteries, Science and Math" at Hainerberg Elementary School for four weeks.
Part of the annual Department of Dependents Schools-Europe Summer Enrichment Program, the summertime classes provided a fun way to continue honing academic and social skills for Wiesbaden youngsters.
"This is not a remedial program," said Clark Kuntz, Wiesbaden Summer Enrichment Program director and one of the local teachers who volunteered to continue teaching during the summer months. Kuntz, who teaches at Aukamm Elementary School during the regular school year, said the program offers students a "different way of learning" with a more activities-based curriculum in the half-day program stressing the exploratory and creative aspects of education.
"This is my third time doing the Summer Enrichment Program," said Wiesbaden Middle School physical education and health teacher Lavera Long. "Not only is it fun, but they get to practice basic skills so they won't be rusty when school's back in session. And we work on social skills."
Long said she likes teaching during the summer months because it's also more relaxed. "There's less pressure and more fun. I also get to meet a different grade level of kids."
Helping introduce newcomers to the Wiesbaden community and its school system is another added benefit for those who have moved here in recent months, Long said.
"I like all the experiments we do," said Meagan Drew. "We took different rocks to see which one would float and which one would sink."
Drew added that she and her fellow fourth- and fifth-graders also made crystals during class.
"It's casual, but they're still learning," said Kuntz, explaining that teachers have a little more freedom to adjust their curriculums during the summer program. Teachers can also cover subjects more extensively than they could during the school year.
"This is an opportunity to concentrate them on improving their writing skills, math skills, scientific inquiry skills. We also offer a creative outlet - we print, we glue, we sculpt," he said. "Mostly, though, they (the students) just think they're having fun."
Having the opportunity to work with mixed age groups in the same classroom is another added benefit, Kuntz said.
"This program is designed mainly for multi-age groups of which I'm a big fan. ... We'll have 6- to 9-year-olds in one room. The kids work together to help each other," he said, explaining that the classrooms more closely mirror home situations where the older students learn more caring skills and the younger children learn more skills in cooperation with their older siblings.
"I think this is more natural, more home-like. ... It's a little more footwork for the teacher, but in the end the results are better," said Kuntz.