What’s Right With Schools: Valley Shore YMCA, Clinton Public School District partner up to expand summer program access

Whats Right With Schools

CLINTON, Conn. (WTNH) — In this week’s What’s Right with Schools, we continue our summer edition as we highlight partnerships throughout the state all made possible by federal and state grants. The Valley Shore YMCA and Clinton Public School District partnered up to make a summer program available to 80 kids in the district. It’s all made possible by a chunk of grant money given out by the state to deal with pandemic learning loss.  

Maryann O’Donnell is the superintendent of Clinton Public Schools. She told News 8 when this grant money became available, she instantly contacted the YMCA to create a partnership. She contacted Chris Pallatto, the executive director of Valley Shore YMCA, to start brainstorming ways they could bridge the gap from the pandemic year into the following academic year.  

“The idea was to get kids to camp and partner with school systems so they can get learning loss recovery and some academic support for kids that have fallen behind and then have fun and do recreation and just be kids,” Pallatto told News 8.

The students start their day in the classroom where teachers have created a curriculum centered around science, technology, engineering and math. O’Donnell tells News 8, “So that our kids could get engaged in learning that was hands-on, that was collaborative, that would allow them to work with each other.”  

After a few hours in the classroom, the kids then board a bus and head over to the YMCA for a fun, recreational camp experience.

“The idea is to really help kids overcome the stress and isolation from the last year,” Pallatto said

The program benefits 80 students who were selected specifically by the district.

In a normal year, the district gets approval from the Board of Education to fund a summer program specifically for English-Language learners. It serves about a dozen students and is only twice a week.

With the grant money, they were able to multiply the number of kids they can help and offer a more intensive experience Monday through Friday, all while collaborating with a local partner.  

Altogether, the district received about $1.7 million from the state in federal grant money. They have set aside almost $65,000 for the summer program, which is free to students and families taking part. 

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