Borrego Sun - Since 1949

BASIC Celebrates Another Summer of Accomplishment


Last updated 8/22/2018 at 10:46am

Another summer of hard work has wrapped up for the Basic Assistance for Students in the Community Summer Reading Academy. In the program's third year, held at the Steele-Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center, volunteer administrator Curt Yaws is impressed by all the hard work the students have done over the course of four weeks, and is incredibly grateful for the time and effort given by the staff.

"I actually feel very good at the end of our third year. The students made some surprisingly good improvements, more than I was expecting," Yaws said.

Three new teachers and a new student aide were added to the team at this year's program, and Yaws praised how well they set forth into action. Tracy Eddie taught the reading class, and is the new third grade teacher at the elementary school. Lydia Gordon is in her second year at Borrego as the high school math and science teacher, who taught the math class at BASIC. Harmony Williams-Sawyer is the new history teacher at the high school and taught the English Language Learners class. Kaitlen Caruso was the newest teachers aides.

"The big change was adding a math class. It was hard to find 10 students who wanted to spend a month of their summer working on math every day, but we did it," Yaws said. "The teacher (Lydia Gordon) was effective in keeping the students engaged, by use of a lot of math games. The testing scores at the end of the class proved to us that this was a good idea and that some big gains can be made in a short, highly focused time."

Over 100 families, friends and students were in attendance, as all gathered at the Research Center, in celebration of the ending of the program Aug. 14. During the final ceremony, the students and their accomplishments were recognized. Volunteers and supporters of the program were also acknowledged for their significant contributions in making this possible.

Joann Stang, founder of the BASIC program, spoke a little about what the focus of BASIC is. A program more that is more than just a learning academy, she said to all, focusing on the education for the Borrego Valley.

"This is the biggest part of our program because it costs a lot of money and goes for four weeks and takes a lot of organization and the budget is about $108,000 for this school."

Superintendent Mark Stevens, elementary school principal Sherilynn Polanco, school board and BASIC board member Sue Vescera, as well as other members of the community joined in on the celebration.

Second year teachers aide Bretnee Schmaderer led the ceremony, while third year teachers aide Tanya Fuerte translated for all in Spanish.

Each class prepared their final presentations by doing different final projects.

There is no word yet in when the 2019 summer program will start, however, Yaws hopes for another successful summer, and said there may be a few changes and tweaks to improve.

"We are maxed out on classroom space right now, so I don't anticipate adding any classes next year. We do adjust our classes based on demand from students and parents, within some guidelines that we set. We may make adjustments again next spring," Yaws said.

If you have any questions or would like to know more, contact Reading Academy Administrator Curt Yaws at

Full story in the Aug. 23 issue of the Borrego Sun.

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