Rockets, Robots and Rovers Camp was offered to rising ninth-grade students for three weeks this summer. Students attended sessions at Career Academy and Technical School in Troutman.


When the State of North Carolina mandated that school district’s offer six weeks of summer school for students in grades K-12, Iredell-Statesville Schools saw it as an opportunity reconnect with students who had slipped through the cracks during the last year and a half.

“We lost a lot of students during the pandemic. We thought this would be a great way to get them back,” Jonathan Ribbeck, the district’s executive director for elementary education, told the school board during Monday’s meeting.

Summer school began on June 14 with participating students in K-8 attending a full day of school and high school students putting in the time needed for credit recovery, Ribbeck said.

I-SS officials hoped to accomplish three main goals through this year’s summer schools and enrichment camps: engage students, target areas of growth and create a fun experience.

It’s been a recipe for success for many students, Ribbeck said.

“I hope you get a chance to visit our sites. We have students say, ‘I love learning this way,’ ” he explained.

Executive Director of Secondary Education Kelly Cooper agreed.

“I challenged the content coaches to develop a curriculum that was hands-on, fun, engaging, that would teach kids reading without them knowing that it would teach them reading and really to engage them with math,” Cooper said.

For students in K-5, the curriculum focus was Reading, Math, Science, Social-Emotional and Enhancements. There were 785 students and more than 200 staff members. The five elementary locations were Cloverleaf, East Iredell, Harmony, Third Creek and Woodland Heights.

“What’s new this year is we have PE, we have art, and music,” Ribbeck said.

In middle school, there were about 465 students and 23 teachers. 

“We had kids show up that didn’t return their paper saying they were coming to summer school,” Cooper said, adding that they were able to provide them with the classes they needed.

Some 200 students participated in the credit recovery program, logging a total of 2,449 hours. In addition to summer school, I-SS offered face-to-face opportunities at all locations, Cooper said.

The program Edmentum was used to supplement additional courses needed.

On top of the mandated summer school, the district provided enrichment camps, including Rockets, Robots and Rovers, EPIC and other camps. More than 250 students who participated in 18 camps offered over a two-week period.

Larry Rogers, principal at Career Academy and Technical School, said, “The Rockets, Robots and Rovers camp was the most exciting thing that happened this summer. We’re ready again to do another.”

Twenty-nine students and 32 employees participated in the three-week camp.

“It was a wonderful experience for our students. I don’t know if our students ever had that kind of experience,” Rogers said.

He said that school board member Doug Knight, a Lenoir Ryne University physics professor and experienced rocket coach, did a good job with helping the students launch the rockets.

Rogers also thanked space camp director Joanie Winterkamp for her hard work.

The Aldrin Foundation developed the entire curriculum for the camp, and I-SS teachers received training in advance so that despite some complicated topics students are able to understand the concepts, and engage in the lessons.

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