Letters to the Editor

Summer program could have helped VHS students | Letter to the Editor

We missed an opportunity this summer to help students who are struggling in math and English at Vashon High School. (“Summer school program falters after teachers raise concerns,” July 4.) The summer school I proposed was to review key concepts in math or reread a book and write essays. It was meant to complement and strengthen the regular school year curriculum. Class time was to be 18 hours over six weeks, with homework and assignments. To me, a grade change from a D to a C is justified if the student completes the work and demonstrates proficiency.

So much of being able to learn successfully is having confidence in yourself. And sometimes all it takes to gain confidence is being in a relaxed setting with someone who says, “You can do this.” That is what the summer program was about. Seven community members agreed to work as volunteers to help those students who signed up.

Last summer I taught eight VHS students geometry. These students had received a D or F during the spring trimester. They came to the class, as many students who struggle do, looking bored and unhappy. By the third week, they were yelling out answers with smiles on their faces. Their attitude changed because our review of the material started to make sense. They understood it and were successful. All these students had their grades raised by one level. And that happened because they put in the extra time and effort to understand subject material they found challenging. I think we owe it to these students to give them a second chance.

Many students at VHS struggle in math and English, yet we offer no opportunities for them to catch up during the summer. I am glad three algebra students will take advantage of this summer program and get the opportunity of a grade change, but we were set to hold four classes. My hope is that next year a comprehensive official program will be in place.


— Hilary Emmer


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