Matteson District 162’s Summer School Stresses Exploration, Problem-Solving, and Fun

technology students at Matteson District 16's STREAM Summer School
Technology students at Matteson District 162’s STREAM Summer School work in cohorts to design and build working robots. (Photo: John Smierciak)

Richton Park, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The “halls” at Sauk School are alive with music… and dance, and band and science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, and mathematics. The students are in summer school. And they like it.

It’s summertime and more than 400 students, from kindergarten to seventh grade, are enrolled in Matteson District 162’s Summer STREAM program at the Sauk and Richton Square schools in Richton Park.

“Our goal in this four-week half-day summer program is to support academic growth in mathematics, reading and language arts through exploration, problem-solving, critical thinking and creative writing, “explains Dr. Blondean Davis, superintendent of Matteson District 162.

“Our kids are learning new content and skills every day. They’re also being introduced to the value of working in cohorts or small groups which prepares them for high school, college and beyond. But most of all, they’re having fun and enjoying learning,” says Brenda Calvin, Sauk School principal, who directs the District’s summer school.   

“These are well behaved, happy children who love coming to Sauk School every morning. I never need to speak in my military voice,” she added, reflecting her eight years of service in the U.S. Navy as a medical technician where she attained the rank of Petty Officer 2nd Class.

“Our primary grade students work with 3D printing, they sing in a spirited choir directed by Diana Harrigan, take instruction from a professional dance instructor and read about spiders while building the little creatures in an art class.

“Our intermediate level students are learning mathematical concept technology while building roller coasters. They’re also engaged in a creative writing workshop and have an opportunity to select an elective that they fancy, such as dance, art, choir or kinesthetic movement, our version of a gym class, Calvin explained.

Middle school students enrolled in the STREAM program take four core courses daily—science, mathematics, English Language Arts and technology. They also have an opportunity to select two elective classes of their choice—band, choir, dance, piano, art or kinesthetic movement, she said.

“This summer program is an amazing opportunity to expose Matteson District 162 students to so many valuable lessons that will serve them well when they return in the fall or for the older students prepare for high school. They’re reading Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, learning about the earth’s systems, air and flight and some are dissecting small animal species.

Technology classes are very engaging. Fifth graders are learning the art of game design and circuitry by designing their own controller and using programing and coding.  Sixth graders are exposed to the art of circuitry the seventh graders are mastering programing and robotics by designing and programing a small puppy made of Legos.

“I believe in teaching above grade level,” said Stacie Burnett, a technology faculty member, “so these 5th – 7th graders in summer school are learning 12th grade material. 

“Even young kids in art classes are designing electronic lady bugs, Calvin said.

Faculty are drawn from a wide range of disciplines. Recent Southland College Prep Charter High School graduates supplement the faculty and assist senior faculty. 

Coretta Franklin, class of 2015, who graduated from Beloit College, enjoys her time assisting in the art class.  Ricky Owens, class of 2016, a senior at the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff where he’s a music education major, demonstrates his trumpet skills for band class members.

Results of the summer’s programs in science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, and mathematics will be showcased in a culminating event, an EXPO on Thursday, July 11 at 10 a.m. to which parents and community leaders are invited.

This is summer news from School District 162.