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  • Anne Sherrard Bostwick, the art teacher at Riviera Beach Elementary, hosted Art Outside this summer for students to continue self-expression.
    Photo by Maya Pottiger
    Anne Sherrard Bostwick, the art teacher at Riviera Beach Elementary, hosted Art Outside this summer for students to continue self-expression.
  • Tiffany Dasilva, a first-grade teacher at Riviera Beach Elementary, hosted a book club to help students continue making gains with reading during the summer break.
    Photo by Zach Sparks
    Tiffany Dasilva, a first-grade teacher at Riviera Beach Elementary, hosted a book club to help students continue making gains with reading during the summer break.

Riviera Beach Teachers Keep Students Connected To School During Summer Months

Maya Pottiger
Maya Pottiger's picture
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August 21, 2018

Students sat on the bench encircling a tree in front of Riviera Beach Elementary School. They took out their sketch pads and picked up their drawings from where they’d left off the week before.

But this outdoor class wasn’t marking a special occasion. These students showed up on a Thursday for Summer Art Outside.

Anne Sherrard Bostwick, the art teacher at Riviera Beach Elementary, started Summer Art Outside this year as a way to keep students connected to their school during their extended time off.

“We wanted to have something that would carry us through the summer so that kids would have that connection with the school, and an opportunity to practice their self-expression through writing and images,” Bostwick said.

Each week, roughly 10 kids attended Summer Art Outside for two hours. One of the regular attendees was Joshua Stowell, who arrived at school early during the academic year to help Bostwick set up the art room.

“He looks forward to it. As soon as he woke up this morning, he was counting down. Starting Monday, ‘Art in the Park’s this week, right? Art in the Park’s this week,’” said Amanda Stowell, Joshua’s mom. “He’s very excited about it. He does art at home, but getting to come here and do it with her — it’s her, it’s all her. Even in the morning before school, he wakes up early to come in to help her, and he looks forward to doing that every day.”

But Art Outside wasn’t the only way Riviera Beach students stayed connected to their school during the summer break. Tiffany Dasilva, who will move from teaching second grade to first grade this year, hosted a summer book club for students.

“Since reading is one of my favorite subjects, I wanted to help bridge a little bit of that summer slide,” Dasilva said.

There wasn’t any required reading for the summer break, though students were encouraged to continue reading.

“A lot of times, reading and anything related to what they consider ‘schoolwork’ is something they want to leave behind,” Dasilva said. “I wanted to have this opportunity for students that had made pretty good gains in their reading to have that opportunity to continue some reading.”

The book club met from mid-June through mid-July to discuss Judy Blume’s “Freckle Juice.” When choosing a book, Dasilva wanted to make sure it was “relatable and readable” for rising third- through fifth-graders.

To make it less like “schoolwork,” there weren’t any written questions, and students learned how to verbally discuss books with their peers.

The verbal discourse allowed students “to demonstrate their understanding and to be able to demonstrate with the peers a book, give opinions, be able to bounce ideas off each other,” Dasilva said. “What really inspired me was to give the students the opportunity to do that.”

Both Bostwick and Dasilva hope to continue these clubs next summer.


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