Summer is not always the dream vacation for middle school kids that you and they hope it will be. For many kids, it is the exact opposite of what they want and need. Too often it is a time of TV watching, playing video games, and boredom. In some cases, this can lead to trouble as kids seek excitement. Shader Croft takes a different and logical approach to summer…make it fun, and kids will want to get involved and learn new skills and activities.
Our five-week summer program provides kids what they want AND need! Shader Croft provides kids with a variety of learning opportunities in unique and creative ways. Kids improve their reading, writing, and communication skills and have a great time exploring their own interests right in their own community. They also learn valuable social skills that are hard to teach during the regular school year.
This all sounds interesting, and you think your child would like it, but are you wondering how to pay for it? Tuition is covered by a variety of sources depending on the middle school each student attends, reason for attending, and each family’s circumstances. We have partnered with area schools for almost 20 years with programs for general education students, special education students, and ELL students. Teachers and school administrators report that the skills students learn during their Shader Croft adventures and classes make a difference in their school work when they return in the fall.
Here’s how it works
Summer Adventures: Students identify something they are curious about—service dogs, archery, blacksmithing, jewelry making, video game design, hip-hop dancing -to name a few– and then plan, with teacher assistance, an adventure into the community to meet and learn from someone who shares that interest. Each student also goes on adventures organized and led by the other students in the group. Mixed in are traditional summer activities like swimming and eating cremees! These community-based adventures are designed and led by the students which help them develop strong leadership and personal skills. Over the five-week program, students will go on 20 adventures! That is one EACH day!
Fun learning experiences: Students are part of a group of 9 to 12 students and are supported by 3 to 4 teachers – an awesome 3 to 1 student-teacher ratio. Because of the small group size, students will experience learning in a whole new way. Students and teachers form a close-knit team of learners and adventurers. This is learning based upon relationships that create mutual respect and support. This is what allows students to confront the hard work of learning and really make progress.
Kids are much more willing to read, write, and speak about something they find interesting! Students improve their reading comprehension and fluency, vocabulary, oral and written expression skills, and their leadership and personal skills because they get the personal explanations and support they need, which is not always available during the school year. And, they, as young adolescents, really enjoy making use of those skills to explore their interests and their community in all sorts of fun ways.
Each day begins at 8:30 A.M. and ends at 4:00 P.M. every afternoon. The day begins with a Morning Meeting of all students and teachers. They greet each other in different creative ways each day. Everyone shares about the adventures from the day before, and look at photos taken by students on the adventures! The group talks about the schedule and adventures for the day and then problem solves any real or potential issues. Often a game is played, which is a fun way for students to take the lead and get energized for the day.
The morning is usually the time for small groups learning about reading, writing, communication skills, and adventure planning! After two small group classes, there is a mid-morning break to get outside, have a snack, and visit or play a game. Everyone returns for two more small group classes. Then it is time for lunch.
After lunch, it’s time to prepare for the afternoon adventures! Students do their part to get the classroom space cleaned for the day and get the supplies ready to go for the afternoon’s adventures.
The travel to the adventures is done in two groups. Each group has adults and students, and travels in cars provided by Shader Croft. Usually there are two different adventures every day as students have so many topics of interest to explore! Students get their first choice of topics many times, but have also shared that, when they don’t, they discover something new they really like!
All adventures return by 4:00 P.M. and everyone then heads home.
What A Difference!
Students share that they found “pushing the pause button” on the remote control of learning gave them time to practice the skills they need, at the speed that worked for them, without all of the other pressures and requirements of a normal school day.
We follow up with students and their teachers and parents after students return to the classroom in the fall. We find that students consistently show improvement in their reading comprehension, word knowledge, and written and oral expression skills. We gather this input after students have had two months back in school to ensure a reasonable length of time for student progress and for observation by educators and parents.
A summer at Shader Croft has shown to make a big difference in learning because the literacy skills taught are directly connected to the adventures the students choose themselves. When students find the topics relevant, the learning of reading, writing, and communication skills is more effective.
Students also show growth in important personal skills such as: confidence, responsibility, attitude, interpersonal relationships, goal setting, conflict resolution and perseverance. Students, educators and parents report that a student’s attitude towards school has improved. This is also supported by reports of more school work being completed. Many students report that their response to disappointment and conflict has improved, thus resulting in more time in the classroom and less time in the principal’s office or planning room for discipline.
An area of great growth is around “my concept of myself as a learner.” Almost all (90%) students report having a positive concept of themselves as a learner. Two thirds of students reported significant improvement in their self-concept, while one third reported they always have had a positive concept of themselves as a learner. Students demonstrate, and educators report, even greater improvement when a student attends Shader Croft for multiple summers. Returning students dive into the experience quickly and eagerly as they enjoy renewing their relationships with returning teachers and students and relish the teaching-learning style that accommodates their own needs and their own pace.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Shader Croft held?
- Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg, Vermont
- Winooski Middle-High School in Winooski, Vermont
When does Shader Croft take place?
- Each program runs for five weeks.
- Programs meet Monday – Thursday each week, from 8:30 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.
- Winooski Middle-High School program is Monday – Thursday, June 21 – July 22, 2021
- Champlain Valley Union High School (CVU) program is Monday – Thursday, July 5 – August 5, 2021
Is There Transportation?
- Transportation to Champlain Valley Union High is available to middle school students living in Charlotte, Hinesburg, Shelburne, St. George, and Williston.
- Students attending programs at Winooski Middle-High School walk to and from the program daily.
Are lunch and snacks provided?
- All students are encouraged to bring a mid-morning snack.
- Students attending the program at Winooski Middle-High school may eat breakfast at the school before Shader Croft begins, and will have lunch in the school cafeteria.
- Students attending the program at Champlain Valley Union High School bring their lunch from home every day.
How much does Shader Croft cost?
- Our cost per student is $1800 per student for the full five week 20-day program.
- Tuition is covered by a variety of sources depending on the middle school each student attends, reason for attending, and each family’s circumstances.