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Tiger Academy kicks off this week at Riverview Elementary

A record number of students are in school this week, getting a little extra help so they're ready for the next school year.

There are 372 elementary school students enrolled in summer classes at Riverview Elementary School this week. They're taking part in the summer learning program, Tiger Academy.

According to coordinator Crystie Dufon, Tiger Academy is designed to help students who are not at grade level in reading, math and social skills. In order to be considered for the sessions, a teacher referral is required.

The classes started Monday, and will run for four weeks. Classes are held Mondays through Thursdays, in four-hour increments. Students are placed in classes with other students in their grade, mixing together kids from all five of Farmington's elementary schools.

"One thing that's unique is the method of teaching," Dufon said. "It's intended to be more interactive and hands-on. That's the goal for what the classes would be. We have many resources to allow that."

Teachers will use a "reader's theater" of approach to teaching reading skills, where students will act out books rather than just reading from the books. Teachers will also use SmartBoards and iPads to give students variety and hopefully keep them engaged in the learning process. When it comes to math skills, Dufon said, teachers have a number of games to help students grasp confusing concepts.

But development of academic skills is only part of the puzzle. Some students struggle socially, so a number of team-building activities are planned for the course.

"The social skills piece is done through team sports, outdoor play, and so on. We're really touching on friendship skills, teamwork, conflict resolution and sportsmanship," Dufon said.

Some students will be in classes with the same teacher for all four hours every week. Other students will rotate among reading, math and social skills teachers.

All of the classes are taught by licensed teachers. The number of students in each grade varies, Dufon said, with the largest number coming out of the second grade.

Funding for Tiger Academy comes from the state, through targeted service funding. Farmington receives its funding through its affiliation with School District 917.

Dufon attributes the higher number of students enrolled to the increase in student enrollment in District 192. She also points to an increased number of individualized education plans being developed for struggling students.

This is Dufon's first year coordinating the district's elementary Tiger Academy, but she did the same job last year for Riverview Elementary School. Tiger Academy is in its fourth year as a summer program in ISD 192.

There are 89 participating in Tiger Academy at the middle school level. Those classes are being held at Boeckman Middle School. New BMS principal Dan Miller is the coordinator.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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