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Camp CMS: Site administrators play crucial role in opening program

Camp CMS started June 14, but the camp's site administrators began working well before that date. Their roles were crucial to the start of Camp CMS and their preparation was similar to how principals prep for the first day of school. Site administrators hired staff, created schedules, handled transportation needs, enrolled students, connected with parents, conducted walkthroughs and much more.

Martha Kate Phifer, assistant principal at J.H. Gunn Elementary, is the site administrator for Rama Road Elementary, serving Rama Road and Lansdowne students. She applied for the position because her school was not a site. Phifer's previous experience as a summer site coordinator, a site testing coordinator and a credit recovery teacher made her a good fit for the job.

"I feel like this specific summer camp is more focused on academics and building capacity with our students in all areas," said Phifer. "The great thing about summer camp this year is that we are learning with the same curriculum we have used all year. Students and teachers are familiar with it, adding that layer of consistency that we all need."

Mint Hill_inside pic.jpgPhifer is adjusting to being in an unfamiliar building with new staff. Families also didn't know her so she set up a Zoom parent tour before the first day. She said it is an opportunity to build on her leadership skills and meet new people. This week, they've also enjoyed some activities and friendly competitions among students and staff.

"The district has provided us with some themed weeks that we are incorporating. We are also providing the students with daily enrichment activities," said Phifer. "At my specific site, we are holding daily opening ceremonies. It's 30 minutes of Minute to Win It-style activities."

Mary Kelly is the assistant principal at Mint Hill Middle and her school's site administrator. She was previously a site coordinator for the Read to Achieve Summer Program at an elementary school. Kelly has also served as an interim principal at the elementary and middle levels.

"For Camp CMS, we were working on a tight deadline. The process has been arduous, yet rewarding. My experiences helped me develop our program. I hired staff with diverse backgrounds to meet the needs of our students. The district has been very supportive during our meetings, providing office hours and offering numerous resources."

The Mint Hill Camp CMS site is emphasizing the social and emotional learning piece. They have built-in weekly focus group time with their sixth- and seventh-graders to hear what they think is working and what can be improved.

West Meckcampcms_insidepic.jpg"It is priceless seeing students who have been fully remote excited to see their peers, loving being back on campus and excited about routines, learning and peer interactions," said Kelly. " Our CTE teachers are focusing on college and career exploration, which includes creating resumes and other written pieces. Science classes are doing hands-on labs and experiments. Our physical education staff has included team-building and collaboration through sports."

Darrel Potts, the West Mecklenburg High assistant principal, was enthusiastic about being a site administrator for his school. He wanted to provide students with a familiar face.

Potts said team-building activities were added to get students off devices and help them reconnect with one another and staff. Their specific site offers four electives, which include Principles of Business, Intro to Adobe Applications, Spanish I and Physical Education. Students also have an opportunity to participate in intramural sports. A schoolwide virtual tour of the Levine Museum is scheduled for July.

"Closing out a school year while working on the summer programming was a challenge. Scheduling and hiring were very different," Potts said. "COVID-19 protocols add a different feel from past in-person programs. However, students have embraced our staff and understand we are here to support them."

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