As Shorewood Recreation and Community Services Department leaders seek the best and brightest instructors for their youth classes, they often turn to the Shorewood School District’s top asset: its staff.
Rec classes are designed to be an extension of the school day and the classroom,” for Shorewood students, says Recreation Director Jody Brooks. Therefore, he adds, leveraging District faculty and staff for rec programming is a no-brainer. “It’s important to us to maintain the high standard of excellence that the Shorewood community expects,” Brooks explains. “Staff are the heartbeat of our schools, and they are the heartbeat of our recreation programming as well.”
Elementary orchestra teacher Julie Nolan has been involved with the rec’s Summer Strings program for the last 12 years, helping students learn and refine their skills with string instruments. She assists with the instruction of three classes: Summer Orchestra for fifth through eighth graders, and Beginning Violin & Viola and Beginning Cello & Bass for fourth graders. These programs culminate in a final concert.
“The program, started by (SHS orchestra teacher) Karen Frink over 20 years ago, has become a beloved tradition over the years,” Nolan says. “I love teaching it because students are able to meet every day for several weeks and can accomplish so much during a short time frame. It’s also so rewarding to see past students come back to volunteer with the younger kids. Watching them work one-on-one with participants and in small groups is inspiring and really encourages the elementary orchestra students to continue the tradition when they move on to SIS and SHS.”
Popular classes in 3D printing and robotics, which run year-round, are also led by a District staff member, SIS Project Lead the Way teacher Dustin Slusser. The classes were created to generate more excitement and interest among students around using the PLTW equipment.
“(The classes) are meant to engage beginner students and introduce them to new avenues they might not know about yet,” Slusser says. “It’s also a time where advanced students can come in and refine and learn new skills. I enjoy watching them tinker, build, design, create and take pride in what they have done. Working with students at a young age and then eventually having them in my classroom at SIS helps me build a solid positive rapport with them.”
Drama Jr., a musical production class, is another long- standing summer youth course that leverages the expertise of multiple District staff members, including elementary band teacher Katherine Myszewski.
“I think the Recreation Department programs are such a great way to connect with students outside of the classroom,” Myszewski says. “I’m able to see my students in a new musical way, support their growth, and have the opportunity to continue to build relationships with current students and new students. Seeing staff and students from fourth through 12th grade all working together is rewarding, and it’s such a great community to be a part of!”
Learn more about Recreation Department offerings at shorewoodrecreation.org.
Pictured: Shorewood School District elementary orchestra teacher Julie Nolan, right, instructs new strings players in the rec department's Summer Strings program. [photo credit: Patrick Manning]