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New Rockford 'Live, Learn, Play' Expands Summer School After Students Struggle During COVID Year

Susan Stephens

Rockford Public Schools and Alignment Rockford are partnering to expand summer programming for students after COVID derailed the school year.

The new “Live, Learn, Play” initiative encompasses everything from academic prep and recovery courses to activities like Dungeons & Dragons.

RPS Chief of Curriculum Heidi Dettman says the big difference this year isn’t just more offerings but placing them at community center sites across Rockford.

“That takes our RPS teachers and it puts them right in the neighborhood of where their students live. And they can interact with them in a completely different way,” she said.

Dettman says it also let them align their curriculum with the community centers’ learning programs.

Anisha Grimmett is the executive director of Alignment Rockford. She says that the pandemic is going to affect students long after this school year. They want to make sure new student engagement programs like this don’t fade away.

“One summer is not going to be enough to continually support and ensure that our kids are continually moving at a pace that works best for them,” she said. “But how we can continue this work moving forward as a community.”

Many Rockford students struggled academically during the pandemic. She says RPS quadrupled the number of students participating in credit recovery to 1,200. The fall semester saw a 28% increase in courses failed by students.

The partners hope engaging students both socially and academically in the summer will be a good bridge back to “normal” instruction in the fall.

Grimmett says you don’t have to be an RPS student to join “Live, Learn, Play” courses. Any student living in Rockford can sign up at RPS205.com. The deadline is two weeks before the start of a course.