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GALT — More than 70 Galt Joint Union Elementary School District students selected by their respective principals received personalized instruction in this year’s first-ever Summer Blended Learning Program.

Open to students who had completed third through seventh grade, the 72 participants used an online curriculum with face-to-face, individual lessons with one of eight teachers.

Among them was teacher Kathy Green, who oversaw 10 students.

Students completed their work online at anytime during the day, then met with their teacher through an online program such as Skype or FaceTime to receive live lessons. They also met in person at the family’s convenience at one of the district’s seven Bright Futures Learning Centers.

Many of the students needed the extra five weeks of instruction to come up to grade level, said Jamie Hughes, assistant principal at Marengo Ranch Elementary School, who oversaw the Summer Blended Learning Academy.

Galt is the only local district offering this type of unique summer program, Hughes said.

“We wanted them to learn, but still enjoy their summer,” Hughes said of the flexible hours.

Typically, summer school is offered daily from 8 a.m. to noon, but the district ended the traditional program four years ago due to statewide budget cuts.

This year’s change was a learning curve for parents who were used to dropping their students off for a chunk of time, but they soon realized that this way, they could help their students at home after work, Hughes said.

When a parent was unable to help with schoolwork, for example due to problems such as a language barrier, the district assigned a teacher or high school mentor as a coach.

When designing the program, Hughes drew not only on her teaching experience but also her background as a parent.

“I asked, ‘What would I want my child to learn in five weeks?’” she said.

The program, using online curriculum adopted by the district through a federal Race to the Top grant, began June 23 and wrapped up with a celebration last week. A total of 65 students completed it.

“This program was definitely a learning curve for everyone, but successful for everyone,” Hughes said, adding that most parents surveyed were interested in a similar program next year.

Good thing, since Hughes is already looking toward next summer and possibly opening enrollment up to all students.

“It was so unique and we’re so proud. We’re going to keep moving it along,” she said. “We’re working to change the way summer school looks.”

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