- Cherry Creek School District No. 5
CCSD Summer: “Power Scholars” have fun, make friends and beat the “summer slide”
Evelyn Tran was excited to go to the YMCA Power Scholars Academy after school got out for the summer.
“It’s better than just laying at home on the couch eating chips and stuff,” said Tran, who will be a fifth-grader at Holly Hills Elementary this fall. She’s one of more than 150 elementary-age students who attended the Power Scholars Academy two half-days per week during the month of June. The academy was offered at 16 sites across the district.
This is the second year Cherry Creek Schools has partnered with the YMCA to offer the program at no cost to families. It provides students with a fun and interactive summer experience that helps them increase their math and literacy skills and build their academic self-confidence.
While the program was developed by the YMCA, it is staffed by Cherry Creek School District teachers, including Kaylyn Penn, who teaches fifth grade at Village East Elementary during the school year. In June, he worked with Tran and a small group of other students during Power Scholar sessions held at Ponderosa Elementary.
“It is very targeted instruction, and that’s what I like about it,” said Penn, who was the 2022 Village East Educator of the Year. “Although it’s summer break and they do deserve the time off, in the end we need to keep practicing those skills… And they find that just with this little bit of time and effort I gave it, I was able to stay where I was at or I was able to master something new.”
Working with Mr. Penn was one of the things Tran and her fellow Power Scholars liked most about the program.
“Our teacher’s really fun,” said Nicki Hamilton, who will be a fifth-grader at Village East this fall.
Olivia Wilson, another rising fifth-grader from Holly Hills Elementary, liked seeing friends from her own school and meeting new people from other schools, all while learning new things. “It was fun, but educational,” Wilson said.
“We learned how to add fractions and decimals or divide those numbers,” Tran said. “And for reading we learned how to summarize stuff.”
The Power Scholars Academy uses a Scholastic curriculum that is different from what is used during the regular school year, which helps students stay engaged.
“It’s more exciting for them,” said Lakysha Dixon, a Village East second grade teacher who served as the program administrator. “It’s not repetitive, it’s something new and fresh for them.” Dixon said the program also helps slow the so-called “summer slide,” when students can lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in reading and math. Dixon has been a CCSD teacher for 11 years and just loves the Power Scholars program.
“The kids need it, the teachers love it and we don’t mind being here for them,” Dixon said. “It’s just a win-win for everyone.”