Sleepy Eye has been home to three summer school programs

Sleepy Eye Public Elementary School and the Tri-Valley Migrant Head Start School were anything but quiet, sleepy schools during the past six weeks.

The Migrant School and Sleepy Eye Public School Targeted Services ended their programs Friday, July 19. The Tri-Valley Migrant Head Start program will continue until November.

In addition to learning, The Tri-Valley Opportunity Council sponsored a summer food service program for area children that included breakfast, lunch, supper and snacks at Sleepy Eye Public School free of charge.

Targeted Services and Migrant students in grades kindergarten through sixth grade had class time with one-on-one tutoring, library time, computer lab time and physical education.

SEPS facilitates both programs each year. According to Kate Nelson, coordinator for the Targeted Services program, and is funded through money from the state. The Targeted Services program is for students who have been flagged by teachers as falling behind in reading, writing, math or social skills. They are recommended–but not required–to enroll in the program for the summer.

According to Amber Franta, coordinator of the Migrant Program, the students enrolled in this program are students whose families move in search of work in the agricultural industry and move from one district to another throughout the school year.

“Most of our migrant students speak English and go to school here until October or November when their families leave again,” Franta said, adding that many of the students return each year.

While the Migrant school meets Monday through Friday each week, these students are joined by the Targeted Services students for three of those days.

“Summer school is really focused on helping the students meet the standards in math and reading because that is our focus throughout the school year,” Franta explained. “We do see a lot of positive growth in those students. And we have a great collaboration with the Tri-Valley Head Start program. Our work together has helped students see success over the years.” 

Although operating within the same time-line and hours and serving many of the same families, The Tri-Valley Migrant Head Start program is a separate program with separate funding. Funded by both state and federal grants, about 15-20 sites are affiliated with Tri-Valley Migrant Head Start throughout Minnesota and North Dakota.

Students enrolled in the Tri-Valley Head Start and Migrant School programs come from all over the area including St. James, New Ulm and Fairfax just to name a few. Head Start is a school readiness program with a focus on academics for students six weeks old to pre-kindergarten. For many of the students, they are familiar with the buildings, the teachers and the schedule and they enjoy their time at summer school added Franta.

Last year was the first full year of operation of the Tri-Valley Head Start building being constructed in 2011.

“We are so fortunate of the close proximity of the schools and because of that we are able to share transportation and food service,” Franta added.

During summer school, teachers Franta and Nelson said it isn’t all work and no play. One day the students experienced Christmas in July, visited the Como Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul and held an end of the year wrap up party the day before summer school ended for the year.

“When students come here they said they feel welcomed and that they feel like they are a part of the school community,” Franta said. “The parents have said they also feel like they are a part of the community and I think that says a lot about the community of Sleepy Eye. We are so fortunate to be able to offer this program.”