Ten children in Flint had the special opportunity this summer to spend four weeks in summer camp, keeping up with their academic work in the mornings and enjoying playtime and fun in the afternoons. The summer camp was offered by St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center, in partnership with Boys and Girls Club of Flint.
As a result of being out of school for because of the COVID-19 pandemic, children have missed a year to a year and a half in academic progress, explained Sister Patricia Magee, OP, who directed the summer school portion of the summer camp. “My objective was to help children maintain what they knew and maybe go beyond,” she said. “If they’re able to go back to school and the teachers see that they remember, I will feel that I’ve been successful.”
The summer camp was scheduled for every weekday from the second week in July through August 5. The children received tutoring and lessons – and optional breakfast – in the morning, followed by lunch and an afternoon of fun and games with Boys and Girls Club of Flint.
The summer school portion involved individual tutoring and group lessons on the theme of the week. “The first week we did social studies,” Sister Pat said. “I taught them what our world is made of to make sure they could understand and recognize the vocabulary of continents [and] the oceans.” The other weekly themes were art, science, and literature.
Sister Pat, a special education teacher and a behavioral specialist, began ministry at the Center in September 2021. The after-school tutoring program began the second week of October, serving four children from nearby St. John Vianney School. After the first semester, two dropped out when their goals were met and two more students joined the program.
“The whole idea is to find out what the child’s learning level is” and to work with the child from there, Sister Pat said. “You could have a sixth grader, but with COVID, many are a year and a half behind and they have a mixture of skills.” She gave the example of a boy beginning sixth grade with an eight-grade level of math who was missing fourth-grade skills in reading.
Sister Pat recruits tutors from Powers Catholic High School in Flint. The high school seniors are required to create a social justice project, and many might base their project on their work at the tutoring program. “I’m trying to help them be creative, that we could [explore] different areas,” such as helping to provide more reading books or making local parishes aware of the program. “In a way, I’ll be helping the high school students,” as well as the younger students who come for help in their academic work, she said.
Sister Pat is going full circle, preparing now to resume the after-school tutoring program in the third week of September, allowing the students to adjust to the new school year. She looks forward to returning to the after-school tutoring program in the fall. “I love children,” she said. “I feel privileged that I’ve been able to do this.”