UT Tyler and Overton ISD join together for summer learning camp

Pre-service teachers at UT Tyler work with Overton Elementary School students on fun and educational projects in literacy and STEM.
Published: Jun. 16, 2021 at 9:51 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 11:33 PM CDT
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OVERTON, Texas (KLTV) - They say one of the best ways to learn something is to do it. Education students at UT Tyler are getting that in-the-classroom experience in a new partnership with Overton ISD.

“We got the Ingenuity Center and the Literacy Center involved, and they took some of our pre-service teachers- our students who are preparing to be teachers-and taught them how to really be tutors in literacy and STEM activities,” says Wesley Hicks, Ed.D., the Dean of the College of Education and Psychology at UT Tyler. “We gave them an opportunity to have a part time job in the summer, get experience as a teacher, and really try to do something that would be beneficial for the academic achievement of these kids in Overton.”

Spending a summer morning in the classroom may not seem like fun, but for pre-service teacher, Jacie Gunter, it’s a welcomed opportunity.

“So far, I’m loving it. It’s a great experience for me because this is like, the first real teaching I’ve had.”

And according to Hicks, valuable learning takes place in the classroom.

“I mean, if you’re out there doing it, you learn more than anything else,” he says. “I remember when I entered the classroom for the first time, many, many years ago. I had an individual talk to me at lunch and they said, ‘How was your day?’ and I said, ‘You you know what, second period, I was 10 times the teacher I was in first period.’”

And as the teachers-in-training learn, so do the students. And, they’re learning in creative ways. Overton ISD Superintendent Stephen DuBose says this is not a normal summer school.

“We are providing our students a chance for enrichment in the summer. This is not a traditional summer school for students who are struggling. These are kids who are bright, and we just wanted to challenge them. Give them an opportunity to just continue to enjoy learning,” he says.

The third, fourth and fifth students are working on reading comprehension and are also completing hands-on and problem-solving based activities related to science, technology, engineering and math. The academic camo last for the entire month of June. Superintendent DuBose says meeting in the mornings and for only one month allows kids to keep their summers.

“You know, we don’t we don’t take their entire summer away from them,” he says. “They get to enjoy being kids, which I think is huge.”

And even when the month is over, Gunter says for her students, the subjects will stick.

“I mean they soak it up so fast,” she says. “They’re super smart little girls, so I don’t have any doubt they’re gonna take away tons from it.”

Superintendent DuBose says forty kids enrolled in this year’s academic camp and that they hope to expand to different subjects and formats in upcoming years.

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