School closures across the country have disrupted the traditional academic year, but that hasn’t stopped districts from providing summer learning opportunities for students and their families. Many have gone above and beyond to keep kids reading and help them build their literacy skills.
As education leaders continue to look for innovative ways to promote summer reading, we’re spotlighting districts that are committed to empowering their students through literacy to see how they’re engaging families at home utilizing the 7 Strengths Framework.
We’re kicking off our ‘LitCamp Heroes’ series with Nora Centeno, Dyslexia Program Coordinator, and Cecilia Serna, Instructional Specialist - Early Childhood, from Ysleta Independent School District (YISD) in El Paso, Texas, who both shared how they’ve incorporated social-emotional learning (SEL) into their virtual summer instruction.
Check out the Q&A with Nora and Cecilia below!
Q: This has been an unprecedented year with school closures. How is your district helping students continue to learn and build their skills throughout this summer?
YISD: We are helping students continue to learn and build their skills through summer virtual learning opportunities, and we’ve created learning menus for all grade levels, from pre-K–6. Our pre-K parents are also participating in Waterford UPSTART, an in-home kindergarten readiness program to continue their learning in all content areas with an emphasis on reading. LitCamp has provided students and families in our community with access to books in their homes and brought families together for fun activities in reading. LitCamp also gives families a chance to have conversations about important social-emotional topics through its 7 Strengths curriculum.
Q: In your role as an educator, how has the 7 Strengths Framework impacted you and your instructional practice?
YISD: In our roles as the dyslexia program coordinator and the early childhood instructional specialist, and as part of our district’s Division of Academics Elementary Team, the 7 Strengths have reminded us to continuously embed social-emotional learning (SEL) into our trainings for teachers and to connect the SEL work we do to literature so that it reaches students. It is also a reminder that, as educators, we need to always focus on the whole child. SEL lessons are very important especially during these uncertain times.
Q: Which strengths do you think are most important right now, and which do you hope your students bring with them as they enter the new academic year in the fall?
YISD: The two most important strengths that stand out to us are hope and kindness. We need to give students hope for their future. We all have hope that soon, all of this will pass and, we will return to our past lives. We also need to always try to instill kindness in our diverse world. If we all practiced kindness, we would have a very different world.
Images courtesy of Nora Centeno and Cecilia Serna