Worth School District 127's EdCamp Unplugged had another successful year with a total of 250 kindergarten through eighth-grade students enrolled in the two-week program, that took place June 13 through June 23, along with employed 47 staff members. (Supplied photos)

Worth School District 127's EdCamp Unplugged had another successful year with a total of 250 kindergarten through eighth-grade students enrolled in the two-week program, that took place June 13 through June 23, along with employed 47 staff members. (Supplied photos)

Students enjoy EdCamp Unplugged at Worth School District 127

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Worth School District 127 Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Linda Esposito (center), with EdCamp students Antonio Raices, 10, of Worth, and DaJah Rayford, 12, of Worth.

By Kelly White

Worth School District 127 has revamped its traditional summer school program, making it more fun, engaging and accessible for all of its students and staff members.

Previously, summer school was a remedial program offered to a select group of students. Three years ago, teachers were invited to participate in the rebranding of the district’s summer school program, called the Extreme Makeover: Summer School Edition. The new program served as a dual-purpose: offering fun and engaging learning activities for students, and offering job-embedded professional learning for staff.

“Our goal was to set the standard for a summer school program that all students would want to attend and other schools would want to emulate,” Linda Esposito, Worth School District 127 Director of Curriculum and Instruction, said.

This was no longer a remedial summer school because all students would be invited to participate. Students entering kindergarten were also invited to attend, something that was not permitted in the past.

Educational consultants, along with district leadership, planned lessons and professional learning opportunities based on the unique needs of the students and the district staff, and all staff had the opportunity to learn from the consultants and expert guest teachers as they received professional development training, planning guidance, coaching during the lessons, and time together each day to reflect and debrief.

“Teachers have described the experience as life-changing, rejuvenating, heart-warming and unbelievable learning,” Esposito said.

In addition to pay, staff members participating in the program earn PD hours that are required for license renewal.

In the district’s first session in 2021, officials were excited to have 150 students enroll and 25 staff members willing to take a risk and try something new. Because the camp was all hands-on with no electronics or technology, the name was cleverly changed to, Ed-Camp Unplugged.

This year, a total of 250 kindergarten through eighth-grade students enrolled in the two-week program, that took place June 13 through June 23, along with employed 47 staff members.

“EdCamp is uniquely designed to meet the needs of our students and staff,” Esposito said. “We look at district-wide data to choose an area of focus for learning in math and literacy. Then we plan activities using curriculum and resources that teachers use in their classrooms on a daily basis. Our overall goals for teacher learning are based on our school improvement plans for the upcoming school year.”

Additionally, EdCamp unites the students and staff from all three schools (Worth Elementary, Worthwoods and Worth Junior High) in one location.

“Teachers that may not know each other all that well have the opportunity to work and learn together,” Esposito said. “Even though students go to three different schools, they are all part of one district and one community. Administrators from all buildings, the superintendent, district level administrators, and community members, including the mayor, police chief, deputy police chief, school resource officer, and our therapy dog, Pawfficer Louie, can all be seen interacting with kids during the two weeks of EdCamp.”

Teaching the camp were three consultants that have been with the district since 2021 who traveled from Washington, North Carolina, and Florida to lead the program and professional development, along with nine expert teachers coming to us from across Illinois, Washington, Oregon, North Carolina, Tennessee and Florida.

A typical day in EdCamp begins with students entering the school and heading straight to the gym where they sit down with friends and staff and engage in math and literacy games and activities.  The games are followed by singing EdCamp songs, clapping, smiling, laughing, and dancing.

After this community time, students head off to their classrooms for lessons in math and literacy.  Students are given voice and choice and are encouraged to engage in conversation and help one another.

“We live by the RAMPS motto — Risk Attitude Mistakes Perseverance Support,” Esposito said. “Be willing to take a Risk and try something new. Have a positive, ‘I can do this’ attitude and that it’s ok to make mistakes — that’s how we learn. Show perseverance, never give up and help support the learning of others by asking questions and offering help if needed. At the end of the day, all students and staff return to the gym for a quick recap of the day and more singing, clapping, smiling, laughing, and dancing.”

At the end of camp each summer, there is a parent night so students have the opportunity to share their learning with their families.

Students, including Worthwoods student and rising fifth-grader, William Hopper III, said camp has been their favorite part of the summer season so far.

“I was feeling nervous on the first day, but now I feel good,” William, 9, of Worth, said. “This was only two weeks long and I learned so much. All students should come to EdCamp because it is fun, and you’ll learn more than you’ll ever know.”

reporter worth edcamp2

Worth School District 127’s EdCamp Unplugged had another successful year with a total of 250 kindergarten through eighth-grade students enrolled in the two-week program, that took place June 13 through June 23, along with employed 47 staff members.  

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