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Summer school instead of sports or music camp?! As improbable as it sounds, a handful of students made this choice. Since the first week of June, following local public health guidelines including masks, temperature checks, social distancing, and lots of handwashing, four young boys from different Denver Metro schools are loving spending their summer days learning together in an academic enhancement program. Real Life Colorado breaks the mold with its Learning Zone program, working with students to read and write with their assistive communication devices. 

Maureen Welch, who has a Master’s degree in Special Education, developed the program to address her son, James’ needs. Following the Literacy for ALL framework designed by Dr. Karen Erickson (UNC-Chapel Hill) and Dr. David Koppenhaver (Appalachian State University), the students work with a special education instructor, speech therapist, and community connector in ways that are different from a typical education setting. 

The boys meet at a nearly empty Lakewood school. In their small group, in the quiet, calm building, the boys feel comfortable and free to explore their new language skills. Since the first session, the program exceeded academic and social expectations. Welch does not teach or stay for the learning enhancement sessions, but she hears all about James’ experience when he comes home and shares on his device. Each day when the chatty boys return home and share what they learned with their families; it speaks to the program’s success. 

Developmental Pathways is excited to partner and provide funding for this summer program. We are looking forward to hearing about the students’ continued progress in reading, writing, and communicating.

Real Life Colorado featured on Colorado & Company