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In-Depth Lessons: Summer Program Takes Learning to New Levels

The Associated Press

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — School doesn't start at Longfellow Elementary School until Aug. 21.

Unless you are an Emerging Scholar like Adrian Jeter, 7.

"It helps me learn," he said last week of the summer program. "I need that because I'm going to be a paleontologist."

Led by Ball State University's Muncie P3 project and taught by Muncie Community Schools teachers, the program's original mission was to make sure students were reading at grade level by third grade.

But it has become so much more than that, said MP3 director Wilisha Scaife.

"They are making gains in other academic areas as well," Scaife told The Star Press (http://tspne.ws/17tG9d7 ). "And they are gaining self-confidence and becoming leaders in their classrooms."

Scaife said Jeter is one of those leaders. He grinned at the suggestion.

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"If someone is having trouble doing something, I like to help them," he said.

Ninety students in grades kindergarten through third are participating in the program this summer. For many, they will be continuing the program, after school and on Saturdays, throughout the school year.

The program is made possible through grants, community partnerships and volunteers.

United Way of Delaware County is one of those partners.

"Delaware County has a lot of people who are committed to the education of our children," said Jennifer Marsh, president and CEO of United Way of Delaware County, who was visiting the school.

"And it's clear there is a lot of passion for education right here in this building."

The grant-funded kindergarten program (for children entering school in the fall) started in 2010, and was expanded and used as a model at four other elementary schools this summer.

"I couldn't have dreamed it," Longfellow Principal Shawn Davis said of the expansion. "It's awesome for the kids, for the community. I couldn't be more proud."

That initial cohort of children at Longfellow is now in the third-grade classroom.

There, students were detectives, working to solve mysteries at different activity stations.

Ka'mya Evans, was putting her hand in a plastic bag, then using adjectives to describe what she felt inside.

Smooth. Hard. Slick. Round.

"It's so fun in here," Evans, 8, said of the class. "And when you get stuck, you get help."

Help here comes in the form of teacher Lydgia Quinn.

"This summer program really lets you take learning to a new level," she said. "It's much more in-depth, hands-on."

Faith Serf, who teaches in the second-grade classroom, said she appreciates how the program "bridges the gap between the school and the family."

"We all work together for these kids," she said with a smile.

Tricia Stanley, the president of the IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital Foundation, was helping students make play dough in the kindergarten classroom.

"I love this program," she said. "It's so important to give kids a jump start on, not just kindergarten, but their education careers."

Making a long "bead snake" in the first-grade classroom, Airianna Jimenez said she loved reading "Alice the Fairy" in class.

"We got to make magic wands; mine was purple and blue and pink," she said. The students were encouraged to raise their wands in the air, instead of raising their hands, to answer questions.

In the second-grade classroom, the students were singing a song to lyrics written out on large pieces of paper, attached to the wall.

Serf pointed to each word as the kids sang "I Believe" by Fantasia.

Scaife was watching from the back of the room.

"This is what MP3 means to me," Scaife said. "It really sums up everything we are doing here."

She smiled as they reached her favorite part of the song. The children sang louder.

"I believe in the possible/If I reach deep within my heart/ Overcome any obstacle/Won't let this dream just fall apart."

___

Information from: The Star Press, http://www.thestarpress.com

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