Atlanta Students Expand Their Horizons at Galloway

Atlanta Students Expand Their Horizons at Galloway

By Head of Community Engagement Gordon Mathis

For two summers, 28 scholars from Horizons Atlanta have participated in an enrichment program at Galloway, overseen by Director of Enrollment Bayless Fleming. The program theme for Horizons at Galloway is fitting for these eager young minds: “Plant a seed, watch it grow!” 

In the summer of 2020, the program debuted virtually due to the pandemic. Throughout last summer, Galloway teachers Dori Herald, Zeke Espey, and Becky Chamberlain worked with scholars who would be entering first grade at Scott Elementary. Through daily Zoom calls, the teachers introduced letter-sound recognition and incorporated foundational vocabulary and reading comprehension. 

This summer, seven of last year’s scholars returned for the Galloway program as rising second graders. In addition, there is a new cohort of scholars entering first grade who are working with Galloway teachers Anne Kostensky, Takisha Johnson, and Chelsey Sabol. 

Each day, the Horizons scholars spend a full day (8 AM - 2:30 PM) at Galloway, with their day divided into time for academics, playground, swimming, lunch, and afternoon enrichment experiences. Every Friday offers a field trip to such locales as the Chattahoochee Nature Center, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Blue Heron Nature Preserve, the edible garden at The Chastain, and a virtual field trip with the Center for Puppetry Arts. 

The older students are working on rules and patterns for phonics while continuing to develop reading comprehension skills. The teachers include foundational math skills of addition and subtraction, as well as clock skills, recognizing the hour, the half hour, and the quarter hour.

The younger scholars encounter sound recognition of vowels and consonants in one-syllable rhyming words. The teachers incorporate the Orton Gillingham method, using manipulatives such as playdough, pipe cleaners, and the reveal system of words (words hidden on a piece of paper become visible when painted over with water-colors) to introduce sight words. Because of COVID during the 2020 - 2021 school year, many of these younger scholars did not participate in a sustained year long Kindergarten program, and they are now learning the daily structure and habits associated with school. 

There is time in the day for students from both age groups to work with a reading specialist one-on-one. Galloway teachers also offer afternoon enrichment activities: Linda Floyd leads students through music, Meghan Cramer introduces drama, Juana Farfan provides creative movement, and Mark Gerl teaches inspiring, hands-on lessons in STEAM. More than ten Galloway staff members and students have also volunteered to assist in the classrooms, in the Chastain swimming pool, and on field trips.

The current program ends on Friday, July 16, when the scholars present what they have learned to their parents; these seedlings certainly have grown this summer!