With in-school learning on pause because of COVID-19, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) offered summer school courses online this year.
But to make school a little more fun and exciting during this virtual time, LAUSD teamed up with the Los Angeles Chargers to create a four-week Summer with the Chargers program open to any and all K-12 students.
"Summer was a chance for us to try different ways to keep students connected as part of their school community even in these uncertain times," Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner said. "Our teachers to the Los Angeles Chargers and all involved have created a wonderful set of classes which helped students continue to learn."
"It is critical to provide resources that keep kids engaged with school and each other while they are quarantined due to COVID-19," said Heather Birdsall, Chargers director of community partnerships. "The Chargers' participation in LAUSD's summer school made the assignments interesting and relevant for the kids."
Over 1,000 students initially registered, but once word about the unique courses got out to siblings and neighborhood friends, the district estimated that Summer with the Chargers reached approximately 2,000 students during the entire four-week period. The program also included 25 LAUSD teachers and students from kindergarten through high school were treated to 50 different course selections with each week focusing on a different theme allowing various members of the Chargers organization, and even running back Justin Jackson, to share a bit about their careers with the students.
"I had a really good time during the four weeks with the Chargers," one student said. "It was all just amazing, learning about new jobs, about the body, and even sports medicine. I really wish that I can do this class next summer and the summer after that until I am through with middle school. I want to expand my knowledge all about a football team and one day even be on one if possible."
"This series was vital during this time because it gave the students a fun and directly applicable learning opportunity," added Ellen Kelly, AT Course Author for grades 9-12. "At this time, many students are bored, frustrated and sad. However, this series taught them basic strategies to address mental health and gave them a dynamic and unique presentation of medical knowledge. Most of the students don't have medical classes like 'sports medicine' offered at their schools so, this series gave them exposure to information they otherwise, would not have received. Also, like many teachers, students are missing in class instruction, but this series gave them a different format to virtual classes especially, via the live Q and As and videos. The live engagement with 'successful' people was priceless."
Courses focused on anything from anatomy to athletic training, and even went into an in-depth review of the various careers that make up a professional football organization. Students were treated to zoom meetings with the Chargers staff members and then completed assignments focusing on the theme for that week.
"Guest speakers, Kahoot!" one parent said. "My son thought Justin Jackson was cool, the handouts and mix of videos with PowerPoint lectures made the class interesting and easy to follow. The nutrition class and other webinars also added a lot of value to the class."
Students, parents and teachers alike applauded the time the Chargers took to making this program function. Community has always been a pillar of the Chargers organization, and it was certainly exemplified within the month.
"Having the Chargers be invested in a course like this shows their investment in their city and in the community in which they play," mentioned Gabrielle O'Leary who teaches grades 3-5. "It shows that they are interested in planting roots in the community by taking the time to work with students in the local public school system. So many of my students in the course are interested in becoming professional athletes or pursuing a career in sports medicine, and this course provided an opportunity to learn content that they might not have learned about in their general elementary classes, as well as learn from experts in the field that they are so interested in pursuing."
"The fact that so many colleagues in the organization stepped up to support this program is remarkable," Birdsall said. "It shows how the entire company has embraced the culture of giving back to our communities that stems from the Spanos family's commitment to philanthropy and service."