By Johnny Jackson
Struggling eighth-graders in Henry County may have the chance to get ahead of the math curve this summer, through math camp.
Henry County school system officials said they plan to offer their new summer enrichment camp to as many as 280 rising high school freshmen, who need additional help in math.
The camp, also known as the Mathematical Minds in the Making (M3) Summer Camp, is a newly created program to assist current eighth-graders who have had struggles in math, according to Lya Snell, Henry's secondary mathematics coordinator.
"The opportunity is provided to offer students enrichment opportunities and content acceleration in order to ease the transition to Mathematics I [or ninth-grade math]," said Snell, who spearheaded the initiative.
"From visiting lots of different schools, I realized that there are some students that have difficulties in learning mathematics," she continued. "We have to do something to increase their love of mathematics."
Snell said the camp is designed to hone in on students' mathematical talents, skills, and interests in order to prepare them for success in the subject at the high school level and beyond. She said she hopes the camp will help motivate students who might not otherwise find the motivation to become successful math learners.
"We realize mathematics is challenging, but we want to take the opportunity to show students how fun and exciting mathematics can be," Snell said. "Our whole goal, this summer, will be to take a group of students and motivate them on the front end, and spark some type of excitement for learning."
The M3 Summer Camp will cover skills based on the state's eighth-grade math curriculum, she said. The camp, then, will advance into the state's ninth-grade integrated math curriculum, covering a class unit on functions.
"They will actually be ahead of the rest of their peers at the end of the camp," said Snell, who plans to track the student campers throughout the next school year to monitor their in-class successes.
The interactive camp is being funded through the Federal Title I Program and the state School Instructional Extension Program, said Snell, adding that community members and local businesses have also partnered with the school system to offer mentorship and support for the camp.
"It takes a community to ensure the success of our students, and we are very thankful for the efforts of so many in our community who take part in volunteering, mentoring, and being there for students," said Henry County Schools Superintendent Michael Surma. "We anticipate a tremendous support for this summer enrichment program as well."
Greg Benton, Henry's assistant superintendent of learning and teaching services, said, "We recognize that mathematics classrooms have experienced changes in the teaching requirements and learning expectations for students. This opportunity will allow our students to be engaged with great mathematics teachers and will also serve as a training opportunity for teachers implementing the new curriculum."
Snell said students must be identified by their school teacher, counselor, administrator, or parent as needing the additional assistance in order to participate in the camp.
M3 Summer Camp registration, she added, has already begun and will continue through June 7. However, students and parents can learn more through the school system's web site, www.henry.k12.ga.us, or by asking their school counselors and administrators.
"We hope that students participating in this opportunity will leave the camp with a new outlook on learning," Snell said. "Students need positive relationships and encouragement in order to strengthen their success in school ... Realizing they can achieve it is half the battle."
The M3 Summer Camp will last from June 7 to June 30, and will be offered at two different sites in Henry County -- at Woodland Middle School, at 820 N. Moseley Drive in Stockbridge, and at Luella Middle School, at 2075 Hampton-LG Road in Locust Grove. Snell said classes will be held Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m., until 12 p.m., and that parents must provide daily transportation for their students.
"At seven math teachers per site, there should be a maximum of 20 students per classroom," she said. "We are hoping for 200 students per site, but right now, we are planning 140 students per site."