Explore whatever topic you want, do the research, utilize technology and make a presentation. Welcome to summer at Culler Middle School in Lincoln.
It’s a great way to stay busy, hone skills and pursue an interest. “We don't help them a lot this year because they are not as needy,” said Becky Tuttle, one of the teachers at this Community Learning Center location. “The skills they are working on include library and research skills and they are kind of fine-tuning those.”
Awizan, a seventh-grader this fall, has a brother who likes soccer, so she and future eighth-grader Hussain are studying FIFA, the organization that puts on the World Cup every four years.
Blake, a sixth-grader this fall, is still trying to decide her research topic. What she does know is that this experience is helping her get ready for school to begin, especially since she’s learning alongside older students. “They are a lot bigger and people might be afraid to come here, but the others take you around the school and this will help me learn better."
That transition is critical, said Tuttle. “They (fifth-graders) become more familiar with our school and that confidence just carries from summer into the school year. Confidence, you can't put a price on that. It seems like they are more successful.”
A new reading program initiated last year means more fifth-graders are better equipped with skills for middle school level projects. To that end, Tuttle is more likely to prod students to find their own solutions to problems rather than just give them the answer.
Varying groups and activities are two highlights for Awizan. “You get to be with different grades at different times and you get to go places. In middle school you don’t get to go on a lot of field trips, but here you go somewhere every Friday.”
Those trips include swimming pools and activity centers. Members of the community also come in to teach a topic, such as a session on designing drums and projects with Arts Are Basic. Breakfast and lunch are also included for students.
Hussain loves the freedom to investigate what he wants, with one key difference. “There are no grades. You get to kick back and choose what you want to learn about.”