Merced County Office of Education

Livingston Moves Full STEAM Ahead Into Summer Program

The Livingston Union School District is planning something entirely new this summer, a four-week program that engages both teachers and students in different ways to learn.

The STEAM and Literacy Academy will run June 11 to July 9 at Yamato Colony School and Livingston Middle School. It is expected to enroll nearly 900 transitional kindergarten through eighth grade students. 

Superintendent Andres Zamora doesn’t know of any other area school district that will offer a program like Livingston’s. Some of the educational practices pioneered this summer will extend into the regular school year. 

“I’m very excited about this,” Zamora said. “This is brand-new. It will be a very unique opportunity. The risk is we’ve never done this before but the reward will be a new type of learning never offered before.” 

Thirty-seven teachers are expected to instruct classes, which run from 8 a.m. to noon. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. 

The summer program is aimed at students below grade level and will include foster youth, migrants and English language learners. Some slots will be available for students just below grade level, Zamora said.

Kuljinder Sekhon, the district’s director of educational services, hopes teachers will find the summer program, which focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, rewarding as well.

“The lessons are teacher-designed and there is a lot of hands-on enriched learning,” Sekhon said. “If you walk into the classroom, you can expect to find students doing hands-on projects, working in groups and doing performance and visual arts. Teachers are becoming facilitators of learning.”  

Teacher Nancy Brasil said students will have the ability to be relentless, resourceful, creative and rational. 

“I believe that learning will occur with far greater depth and breadth, thereby increasing retention, comprehension and academic achievement. Teachers this summer will welcome students’ attempts to bring all reasonable solutions to the table when they are attacking problems," Brasil said.

 Brasil added she believes by implementing the academy this summer that it will open dialogue on how the instructional model can be brought into the regular school year and how these traits are crucial for students. 

Sekhon said the focus will be on communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity — all hallmarks of the new Common Core instructional standards mandated by the state. 

Zamora said during development of the Local Control Accountability Plan, participants asked for summer learning opportunities. There was no summer school for the past three years and previous programs stressed remedial, book-based programs.

The summer program will cost between $200,000 and $250,000, according to Zamora.

“The community should be proud of this,” Zamora said. “It’s an example of Livingston leading the way in the transition to Common Core.”

Zamora said the expectation is that students will become better speakers and better at asking questions through their summer experiences. He also hopes the children’s curiosity will be stimulated as they learn.

Teachers will create their own assessments before the program starts and at the conclusion to see if students have mastered the subjects. Students will get report cards at the end of the summer program that show how they handled collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking. 

Zamora said at the end of the summer sessions there will be a showcase day where students exhibit their projects and learning and that could include performances.