Collaboration Between BVU, Storm Lake Schools Focuses on Educational Fun

(story by Tim Gallagher)

For the second consecutive year, Buena Vista University students are at the heart of a summer school program serving children in the Storm Lake Community School District.

In 2021, some 500 K-12 students in Storm Lake received academic instruction and more as two dozen BVU students worked to help erase learning and social gaps that arose in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown. BVU students provided Storm Lake Superintendent of Schools Dr. Stacey Cole with the instructional solution as many teachers in the district sought the summer break to recharge following a difficult academic year in the throes of the pandemic.

This summer, however, the focus has been less on academics and more on activities and social outcomes. Dozens of students have reported to Storm Lake High School and Storm Lake Middle School each day during June to receive guidance on fundamentals and fun when it comes to activities such as basketball, golf, soccer, football, volleyball, and much more.

Again, students from the BVU School of Education help direct activities. The opportunity of a quality summer job meshes well with the experience future teachers gain in “classroom” spaces such as the gymnasium, weight-room, football field, etc.

“We’ve spent the month of June focusing on getting children to see that school is a place where they can enjoy activities of all kinds as they build friendships, grow closer to instructors, and have fun in a great environment,” Cole says. “Even though we move further away from the pandemic each day, there are residual effects we see among children that impact their educational and physiological growth. Having children in a less regimented school setting, one devoted to their enjoyment and wellbeing, is what we sought this summer.”

BVU students such as Emily Newton and Brandon Foster have teamed with teachers and coaches from the Storm Lake Community School District in delivering the 2022 edition of summer school.

“The experience has been enriching,” says Foster, a senior business education major and BVU soccer player and wrestler from Waycross, Ga. “I do soccer skills with students each morning on the practice field. The most important thing for me to remember is to make it fun, especially at this age.”

BVU basketball player Emily Newton, an elementary education major from Diagonal, taught reading to first graders in the summer school program in 2021. This summer, she guides Storm Lake Middle School students through basketball fundamentals before overseeing games each afternoon.

“Some students haven’t had experience in basketball, so it’s been fun to watch them grow,” Newton says. “It’s also been instructive for me, helping me think about the basics. The experience will help me as I plan and manage my time one day for my classroom. It will also help me as I work with students of different needs and interests.”

Foster will student-teach at Sioux Central High School and Storm Lake High School in the fall. Newton student-teaches during the winter and spring of 2023.

As a bonus, students teaching summer school have been allowed to reside in the BVU suites for free, thanks to a generous benefactor and BVU value-added funding which provided the means for their residential stay on campus in addition to food costs. A similar benefactor-driven effort provided the benefit one year ago as well.

“Having a room paid for on campus is awesome, as is the assistance BVU has provided for groceries,” says Newton, who also spends a few hours working for BVU Admissions. “I get to teach, I get to coach, and I still get to be a BVU student helping in Admissions this summer.”

It’s been another win-win effort between the Storm Lake Community Schools and BVU, Cole’s alma mater.

“The collaboration with BVU students who team with our instructional staff in delivering activities in this year’s summer school program has been just what was needed in keeping our students healthy and thinking about school as a place where they connect with friends in very constructive and enjoyable activities,” she says.



Local News