Jumpstart gets students on the right foot
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — Through the Jumpstart program, the Marshfield School District provides a setting for students who struggle and might need a little extra help leading up to the first days of school.
“That gives the teachers a chance to know the kids a little bit,” explained Jumpstart Principal Dean McFarlane, “and the kids that are referred by the teachers are the ones that don’t really have attendance issues. They are not ones that have behavior issues. They are ones that typically enjoy school and just struggle a little bit, and so what we try to do is get those kids here a couple of weeks right before school starts, and that is why it is called Jumpstart.”
Jumpstart is open to incoming first-grade through sixth-grade students. Approximately 110-125 district students participate each summer with two teachers and one aide assigned to each grade section.
“We basically target the skills that they should have gotten in kindergarten or they should have gotten in first grade. So now that they are going into second grade or third, whatever grade it is, we review the skills that they should have attained, sharpen them, and advance them a little so once the school year starts, … they should have a good start to the year,” said McFarlane.
The program works on team building as well as instruction in math and reading with learning targets tailored to each grade level. Positive behavior is reinforced with lima beans that may be used in a store to purchase rewards. The reward system also teaches students money management as they weigh spending or saving for available merchandise.
Jumpstart was instituted by Kim Ziembo, Marshfield’s current director of curriculum and instruction, nearly a decade ago and is maintained by district teachers, retired teachers, and other outside district support.
“It’s difficult because (the district teachers) are getting ready for their classroom,” McFarlane added. “These are teachers that love to do this. It is a tough time. It’s the middle of August. You are getting ready and focused on your coming year. They are here helping kids out.”
In addition to the Jumpstart program, the two-week instructional section also focuses on student leadership through the Leadership Academy, where four students are chosen from each school — eight from Grant Elementary — that show promise of leadership ability.
“Principals and teachers rely on them to get certain things done. … They are here to get certain things done for the school year,” McFarlane explained. “When the school year starts, they have a lot of stuff going on. They get all the ducks in a row for all of the programs that they are going to run. They are going to help with Bike to School. They are going to help with the can pick-up and with many other things within the school. They are able to get the legwork done for that instead of having to do that during the school year.”
This year’s program ran Aug. 7-18 at Madison Elementary School.