Twice a week, classrooms at the Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Rehoboth Beach are full of English language learners.
They come from all parts of the world – Sri Lanka, Russia, Syria, Central America – and many work in local restaurants or the poultry processing industry.
This year, program director Jesica Sepulveda said more than 100 people have signed up for the 10-week English classes. There are four levels of instruction, from beginners to advanced.
Retired pastor and Rehoboth resident David Kaminsky is one of several volunteers who teach classes for the English as a second language program. He works with advanced speakers and offers a crash course on American civics and culture.
“Holidays and the form of government, we do a lot with that,” he said.
The Lutheran church has offered ESL classes since 2003, starting with 25 students in its first year.
Sepulveda said the program is free but there is a $20 fee for materials. Childcare is available, and there is rolling registration for anyone interested in joining.
“We’re flexible with enrollment and try to accommodate everybody,” she said.
Sepulveda said the program costs about $50,000 a year to operate, and their primary support comes from a two-year $50,000 grant from the Arsht-Cannon Fund – a charitable fund that partners with nonprofits to provide support for the Hispanic community. The Longwood Foundation, Dollar General, Youth Philanthropy Board and Harry K Foundation also donate to the program, she said.
Christine Cannon, executive director of the Arsht-Cannon Fund, said the group provides a necessary service.
“I feel that I cannot say enough about the good that this program has brought to many immigrants and their young families. The in-kind use of classroom space and the strength and hard work of the team of volunteers from the eastern Sussex community have changed the lives of so many newcomers over the last couple of decades,” she said.
Link: Cape Gazette
Since its official launch as a standalone organization in 2015, SummerCollab has made waves with its innovative summer learning programs for low-income, underserved Delaware students. And the group has already started receiving national honors. SummerCollab was selected as the winner of the National Summer Learning Association’s 2017 Founder’s Award.
One of the org’s programs is Tyler’s Camp, a free camp for low-income middle-school youth designed by SummerCollab. It started with the help of Salesianum School’s Salsthon fundraiser in 2016.
SummerCollab Executive Director Catherine Lindroth stresses the importance of the often underserved middle-school demographic.
“After 12 years of age, low-income students are no longer able to access daycare opportunities,” Lindroth said. ” This means that in their most critical years, they are not participating in high-quality learning experiences. They are not exposed to positive opportunities that can light them up about all the possibilities for who they can be.”
Impressively, Salsthon students raised over $100,000 in just a few months through a social media campaign. That initial campaign helped to launch a pilot for over 200 students, offering a range of experiences — including animation, coding and field hockey.
The camp, which is operated with STRIVE, is named after Tyler Brown, a gifted senior at Salesianum who passed away just before graduating. “His love for the community, volunteerism, art and athletics was paramount throughout his entire life,” Lindroth said. “As we moved closer to the launch of the middle school academy, Tyler’s friends asked that we name it in his legacy.”
Now in its second year, Tyler’s Camp, with the help of Christine Cannon of the Arsht-Cannon Fund, is expanding to Sussex County, where low-income middle-schoolers are being equally underserved.
“We were able to launch a pilot program for 80 students,” Lindroth said of the downstate expansion. “Over eight weeks, students have played field hockey, soccer, wrestling; they have explored tap and audio engineering. Students are building boats, and have made movies. And this is just the beginning.”
Wait. They get to build actual boats?
“Full-size boats,” she said. Twenty 6th–9th-graders built them with power tools. “With the support of volunteers at the Lewes Historical Society, they will launch their boats at Canal Front Park.”
While SummerCollab winds down another successful summer of fun learning retention, they’re looking forward to more summers and more learning. If it sounds like something you’d be interested in getting involved with, SummerCollab is actively looking for passionate teachers, college students and top high school students to join the team next summer.
If you have or know a kid who would benefit from SummerCollab, applications are available through existing community-based agencies, including the Boys and Girls Clubs and area YMCA locations. A full list of the group’s network can be found on the SummerCollab website.
This summer at Tyler’s Camp at Sussex Academy, kids owned their learning. They danced and sang; engineered music, rehearsed, innovated, refined and performed. Kids didn’t just explore subjects like filmmaking, dance, and field hockey; they became filmmakers, dancers, and athletes.
This is the power of summer. And at Tyler’s Camp, kids choose what they want to pursue and how they pursue it. Tyler’s Camp empowers campers to transcend obstacles and develop new motivation as they prepare to take on their next school year.
Through an innovative partnership, Sussex Academy partnered with SummerCollab and The Boys & Girls Clubs, to bring Tyler’s Camp to it’s remarkable facilities. Hosting over 70 campers, students enjoyed Sussex Academy’s brand new fields, gym spaces and classrooms. Here campers were able to immerse themselves, engaging in the kind of learning that lasts.
Some campers participated in dance recitals and theater performances, while others competed in basketball and soccer tournaments. Campers who took the video production course even created a Movie Trailer for the program using iMovie.
“I find Tyler’s Camp to be so beneficial because of the level of exposure kids receive,” said one camp leader. “Tyler’s Camp successfully exposes students to a new world in sports, arts, and music.” The program was designed to let kids dive headfirst into their roles as artists, engineers, and more. As a result, campers finish the summer having strengthened their sense of purpose and intrinsic motivation.
Tyler’s Camp was founded in 2016 by SummerCollab, an education nonprofit based in Wilmington, after receiving a generous gift from the Salesianum School community. That gift, which led to Tyler’s Camp’s founding, was donated to honor a fallen classmate, Tyler Brown, who during his senior year at Salesianum, suffered a fatal car crash. Mr. Brown was known by his peers to be a Renaissance man–an artist, an aspiring architect, and athlete. With Mr. Brown’s expansive interests in mind, SummerCollab sought to design a camp that provided avenues for a range of study as broad as Tyler’s passions.
Like many projects of this scale, Tyler’s Camp is a joint venture. It relies on a network of partnering agencies to bring such a wide variety of programming to campers. Teachers and instructors are hired from local schools. And participating organizations include the Dagsboro Boys and Girls Club, the Georgetown Boys and Girls Club, and La Esperanza, all of whom fall under the SummerCollab umbrella.
This year, Tyler’s Camp was piloted at Sussex Academy as a two week finale to a seven-week middle school leadership program funded entirely by the Arsht Cannon Fund. Of the 75 campers who attended Tyler’s Camp at Sussex Academy in 2017, 98% live in households that qualify as low-income. Sussex Academy provided the grounds for vital and extraordinary learning to take place – a critical pilot year for Tyler’s Camp to take root here in Sussex County.
Next year, while still free for campers of high-need, SummerCollab aims to open up its programming to all kids in Sussex County for a fee. Programming will include a focus on writing, targeting incoming 6th graders’ preparedness for Sussex Academy’s high academic standards in the fall.
Sussex Academy partnered with SummerCollab to offer an unprecedented experience for middle school students. SummerCollab aims to ensure all kids have access to extraordinary learning opportunities, and reverse summer learning loss among children, in particular those of low income who typically lose as many as 3 months of learning during the summer months. Through the donation of its campus and support staff to SummerCollab’s Tyler’s Camp, Sussex Academy took powerful steps toward making summer a time for meaningful growth for both it’s own students and the broader community.
For more information on how to get involved, please visit SummerCollab.org.