ST. PETERSBURG — The bright blinking lights of yellow school buses have started rolling down neighborhood streets, making frequent stops to pick up anxious youngsters. The activities of summer camps, sports camps and Summer Bridge programs have come to an end and replaced with afterschool care and homework.
Parents’ minds have shifted to school supplies, uniforms and signing school planners. They are focused on arranging drop off and pick up schedules for the younger children while older high school students are vying for school parking passes.
It’s that time of the year where school bells are ringing, morning announcements are heard, and new friendships are formed. How prepared are the kids for the new experience of the upcoming year?
One set of parents, Roy and Isabella James, decided to leave nothing to chance for their fifth- grade son Jermaine’s educational progress.
“We know that it is important for our children to focus in a classroom and pay attention to small things,” said Roy James, Jr., an insurance broker. “His mom and I try to teach him to study, learn through homework and prepare to take tests.”
This summer, the Jameses sent Jermaine to the Shirley Proctor Puller Foundation (SPPF) Summer Camp, featuring the M.A.S.T.R. Kid curriculum to keep his mind sharp. The educational camp is for boys and girls in grades K-8.
The M.A.S.T.R. Kids curriculum centers on math, art, science, technology and reading, and focuses on ways to encourage academic excellence over the summer months. The program offers activities that decrease learning loss and guarantee fun while highlighting significant areas of learning including S.T.E.M. (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math), health and wellness and field trips.
Having life and educational experiences during the summer months help students to be better prepared for a challenging school year. When students participate in various events, activities and travels outside of their immediate surroundings, they gain knowledge of other cultures and environments. This is helpful upon returning to school to have expanded dialogue with others.
Having support in school is also crucial for students to have success. If students have had a summer of total relaxation, it can be difficult making the switch to a rigorous academic schedule.
One organization recognizes the challenge and has committed to help the students and school.
“We are concerned about the total welfare of our kids, not just them playing and cheering on Saturday,” said Tawana Maybell, president of Lakewood Jr. Spartans.
The Lakewood Jr. Spartans youth organization serves more than 400 children in Little League football and cheerleading. Their students are required to turn in progress notes and report cards throughout the school year.
The Jr. Spartans have tutoring, homework help and a computer lab to help students with their academics. The tutoring session starts 90 minutes prior to football and cheerleader practice.
The organization representatives volunteer at various schools and set aside time to eat lunch with their students while mentoring them.
Well, the streets are once again filled with early morning rush hour traffic, kids with backpacks riding their bicycles and school buses making wide turns. The early morning bells are followed by the principal’s voice heard over the intercom greeting students, teachers and staff, “Good morning! Once again, it’s that time of year!”