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Summer Explorations Program continues to evolve to best support student needs

More than 640 students attended the Sunnyvale School District Summer Explorations Program, which ran from June 29-July 27 this summer. Summer Explorations is a free, four-week program, where students spend each day working on building their academic, and social-emotional skills. There are multiple components to Summer Explorations that makes it a unique experience for all of our students who participate.

Stanford University Partnership

Since 2010, Sunnyvale School District has partnered with Stanford University’s Teacher Education Program (STEP), to offer a comprehensive summer enrichment program.

Master teachers from Sunnyvale School District serve as mentors to STEP student teachers who assist in the classrooms, allowing for more individualized support that results in deeper learning and more focused student engagement. With the flexibility during the summer, and with additional teachers in the room, the program is able to offer innovative and exciting lessons that not only support students academically but also work to instill confidence and a positive mindset for learning. This year we had 61 teacher candidates partner with our summer school teachers.

Middle School

In the middle school program held at Columbia Middle this year, students polished their skills in math, English-language arts, social studies, science, and English Language Development. A continuation of the Juntos Spanish English Dual Language Immersion program was also offered from transitional kindergarten through eighth grade.


At the elementary program held at Lakewood this year, students focused on community building, informational writing, math problem solving, technology and integrated science units. Students were also able to access the library during the summer to further expand their learning. Students also enjoyed learning excursions to Animal Assisted Happiness and downtown San Jose and to explore important murals and statues related to their reading in class.


Extended School Year (ESY)

ESY is specialized summer programming that is offered to students who have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)that are found to qualify for summer services. This year, ESY services were available at Bishop, Lakewood, and CMS, with Special Day Classes and Related Services such as speech therapy, Occupational Therapy, and behavior services. About 160 students participated.

New to ESY this year was a peer mentoring inclusion program. The program included seven rising 7th and 8th grade students. Students attended for the duration of the ESY program, from 8:30-11:30, at Bishop Elementary. The program started with a field trip to the nearby Magical Bridges park and classroom observations, before settling into a regular routine of a check-in and daily lesson, two rotations with assigned “buddies,” and an end of day reflection. The summer ended with Field Day that was named as a highlight for many of the peer mentors.

When asked about the benefits of inclusive education, one student said it is vital because it prepares students with special needs for adulthood and noted that regardless of whether a student is differently abled or not we all need to learn to work with different people and that we all grow by doing so.

Kids Learning After School (KLAS)

Our after school program was also offered at both elementary and middle school this summer based on family interest and need.

We look forward to finding new ways to continue to elevate our summer program to best support our students! To learn more about Summer Explorations, please contact your school or visit

Article by the Teaching and Learning Department and District Communications Coordinator Alia Wilson.

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