Summer school in full swing

Clarence Plank

Summer school has already started and continues until June 17 at schools around Portales.

Teacher Connie Hernandez said she has been teaching summer school for 19 years and she loves seeing a child’s reaction when they get something they have worked hard at learning.

“The most important thing we look at are the needs of the students,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said her students have been working on oral language development, reading and written language.

“They see all the other kids who are gone for the summer and there are just a few of them here,” Hernandez said. “What we try to do is make it a learning environment, while working on the areas and skills they need. As teachers we try to be creative to where it is fun, engaging and motivational for them.

Hernandez said some of the things she is doing with children include increasing their math skills by using number games, music and different activities that focus on math concepts.

Teachers fill out summary sheets on areas where students need to focus, whether it is reading, writing or math.

“The way we determine their needs is by teacher recommendations, we utilize test scores, short cycle assessments and other test scores,” said Henry Montano, director of federal programs at Portales Municipal Schools.

A total of 12 teachers, educational instructors and high school helpers are working with 150 students attending summer school in the district this summer. Students range from kindergarten into high school.

Breakfast and lunch is provided along with transportation to and from school, said Montano.

Kindergartner Vicente Ortega said he has been learning about numbers and it has been helpful.

“Today we’re learning about numbers, writing and reading,” Ortega said. “I love being at school so I can learn about reading.”

What Hernandez loves about summer school is seeing the students grow to express themselves more in the smaller classes.

“I am a bilingual reading interventionist and I go into teachers’ classrooms to work with students,” Hernandez said. “It’s kind of neat because I’m seeing students in a smaller group setting and not a classroom of 20-plus kids. I’m seeing students who were timid and shy at times in other classrooms and now they are open and more willing to talk and that is very positive.”