Superintendent’s Summer Challenge promotes healthy bodies and healthy minds

From press release

Rockford Public Schools has released details of its inaugural Superintendent’s Summer Challenge, a series of nearly 20 summer programs that promote healthy bodies and healthy minds for local students, utilizing new and innovative learning environments.

“While traditional summer school continues for those students who have fallen behind academically, the width and depth of our new enrichment programming is unprecedented in Rockford and ensures that all students have viable options for summer learning opportunities,” explained Dr. LaVonne Sheffield, Rockford Public Schools superintendent.

Many students will be able to participate in these programs free of charge as a result of  Rockford Public Schools utilizing federal grant funding through Title 1 and 21st Century Community Learning Center.

“It’s important for students to remain active physically and mentally as they transition from their busy school-year schedules to the long days of summer,” Dr. Sheffield further explained. “We realize that need and have responded by providing a creative mix of summer programming to keep our students challenged, keep them learning and having fun.”

Approximately 18,000 brochures have been mailed to the households of the nearly 30,000 students enrolled in Rockford Public Schools so that parents could review the many local summer activity options, including several new programs like Farmtown, which offers hands-on, innovative, “seed-to-market” instruction for middle school students. The students are planting tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, zucchini and other vegetables, with goals that include selling vegetables and farmers’ markets and canning “school salsa” to sell in local grocery stores and to serve in the public schools.

“Children learn differently, and we need to reach our students in new ways,” Dr. Sheffield says. “Farmtown is an exciting approach to accomplish that objective and, so far, our students are really enjoying the experience. Many of them have never planted anything before.”

Some of the new summer programs are presented in partnership with local agencies, including Benedictine University, Booker Washington Community Center, Discovery Center Museum, Rockford Area Arts Council, Rockford College, Rockford Park District, Rock Valley College, the University of Illinois Extension Center, the YMCA and the YWCA.

All of the numerous enrichment activities are the result, Sheffield notes, of “months of internal planning and collaboration with community organizations.” The Superintendent’s Summer Challenge includes the following programs:

Rockford Public Schools Programs

→ Summer School for Elementary, Middle School and High School Grade Levels

→ Farmtown

→ Superintendent’s Reading Challenge

→ Steppin’ Out This Summer

→ Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE) and American College Testing (ACT) Preparation

Rockford Public Schools Partnership Programs

→ RC LEAD Program (in partnership with Rockford College)

→ Summer Sleuths (in partnership with Benedictine University)

→ Totally Arts Camp (in partnership with Rockford Area Arts Council)

→ TechGYRLS/TechGUYS (in partnership with YWCA)

→ Rockford Public Schools and Rockford Park District Sports Camps

→ Booker Washington Center Summer Camp

→ Boys & Girls Club of Rockford

→ Discovery Center Museum Summer Camp

→YMCA Summer Camps

Traditional summer school begins June 21, with many of the enrichment programs running concurrently. A downloadable PDF of the brochure recently mailed to district households, which includes program details and registration information, is available on the District’s Web site,, or for more information regarding enrichment program details, call (815) 490-KIDS (490-5437).

From the June 16-22, 2010 issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!