LEROY — Some students need additional time to learn, while others learn differently or lose skills during a long summer break.

To counter that loss of learning, give at-risk children the opportunity to gain some ground on their peers and ease them into the new school year, Pine River Area Schools has provided Jump Start Academy — its summer school program for students from second to fifth grade.

Hosted at the middle school, Jump Start Academy takes place three times a week for four weeks, focusing in reading, math and writing. Two groups of 10 students are instructed for about three hours by Pine River teachers Paul Chilson and Susan Stoll, who also recommended the children for the program. It's funded by Title 1,  provides all needed materials along with a healthy breakfast and snack, and allows for a quick outside recess.

"We want to give these kids the opportunity to get a jump start on school before it starts in September," said Stoll. "We host it in August, right before school, instead of June, so the kids don't have two months of nothing after summer school ends. This way the students are able to ease back into the school year."

Each student was assessed on the first day of the program to see where learning gaps occurred. Chilson and Stoll, along with their two parapros, assist the students with a selection of hands-on activities to focus on each student's weaknesses. According to both teachers, the process has been working.

"I'm seeing impressive growth in every one of my kids," Chilson said. "When they see their own success, their faces are priceless. They're building that confidence."

Not only are they growing academically, they are growing socially, making new friends and gaining a comfort level with peers. Jump Start Academy also gives the students a boost to their self esteem and the opportunity to become comfortable in the middle school building.

"I believe the kids are enjoying it," Stoll added. "We also are getting great support from the parents who are realizing how important education is. They're staying dedicated having their children attend each day, given weekly updates about what we're doing in the classroom and get to take home activities to continue their child's learning. For the kids, we give them books for good attendance."

At the end of the program, the students will be tested again so the instructors can determine how much growth has occurred. Based on the results they already see, Chilson and Stoll believe student skills will show a significant increase.

"The program is great and the size of the groups makes a really nice student-to-teacher ratio so we can get really involved," Stoll said. "We want to give them every advantage they can get before the school year."