Summer school is an adventure in Jackson County


Jackson County kids are excited – yes, excited – ­­about summer school. That’s because the Jackson County Campaign for Grade-Level Reading transforms the experience into a Summer Adventure. During June, leaders from Jackson County elementary schools and nonprofits take fun, hands-on experiences like canoeing, swimming, building birdhouses and meeting the rodeo queen and turn them into enriching opportunities for hundreds of students.

Each summer, kids from all six Jackson County elementary schools who would benefit from reading instruction are invited to three or four full days of weekly programming that is directed by each school to meet the needs of its students. In the morning, participants are grouped by reading level and teachers guide them through a rotation of experiences like reading, writing, word structure and math. In the afternoon, a coordinator for the Campaign organizes hands-on learning activities and field trips with local partners. The Campaign also coordinates funding for transportation, food and any other needs. 

Both students and parents appreciate the opportunity for small-group learning and building close friendships. Parents and guardians also appreciate how Summer Adventure streamlines summer activities. Because each session is a full day, adults can coordinate their work schedules around the experience. “I like knowing my son is in a safe environment, with great teachers who care,” says one parent. “My biggest celebration for my child is that he loves to read.” 

“Summer Adventure is a win-win for students and families,” says Bellevue Elementary Principal Jeanette Hartung-Schroeder. “Parents appreciate the structure and the learning. The students' days are occupied and they get to see their friends. The additional weeks also shorten learning loss.”

The Campaign focuses year-round on helping local students read proficiently by third grade, a critical milestone for predicting future success in school and in life. Summer Adventure is one of many programs Campaign Coordinator Joanne Evans oversees to equip youth and their families with the tools they need to meet that goal. 

“In recent years we’ve organized the first Storywalk in the county, established a Little Free Library and partnered with local organizations and events to distribute free books. Summer Adventure is our biggest program, and it has led to 73% of students who attend maintaining or improving their reading proficiency,” says Evans. 

The Jackson County Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is an initiative supported by the Community Foundation of Jackson County. The following organizations provided additional funding support for this year’s Summer Adventure: AE Pearson Foundation, Jackson County Board of Supervisors, Maquoketa State Bank, McDonough Charitable Foundation and Theisen’s More for Your Community grant.

The Community Foundation of Jackson County offers many opportunities to improve quality of life by addressing an array of local issues. To learn more about how you can establish a fund or make a gift that impacts your community, contact Executive Director Lori Loch at 563-588-2700.