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BASIC's Summer Learning Academy Kicks Off


Last updated 8/28/2018 at 12:37pm

By Curt Yaws

Ensuring that every student rises to the level of their personal goals is a project for a whole community. To help focus that project, Basic Assistance to Students in the Community (BASIC), a Borrego Non-Profit, started their 3rd annual summer Learning Academy on July 19th. The four week school is being held at the UCI Steele/ Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center.

The Borrego Springs Unified School District helps by recommending students who may benefit from some specialized learning in certain areas, such as reading, math or English language. Sherrilynn Polanco, Principal of the elementary school, helps select 2nd and 3rd graders for the reading program. Martha Deichler, BSUSD Community Liaison, targets good students for the math and English classes. Katherine Girvin, District Principal, assists with sourcing teaching staff. The school district provides bus service and loans Chromebooks and child size furniture to the classes.

Each student receives breakfast and lunch, prepared by Darlis Bailey and the staff of Kendall's Cafe. These are healthy meals for an energetic day of learning and fun. Meal time is one of the most popular times of the school day, for teachers and students.

UCI Manager Jim Dice and "Queen of the Reserve" Elaine Tulving provide everything an educational organization could ask for in a quality facility. There are 3 classrooms in use plus a meal room and play room. Sicco Rood helps with technology issues as each child is linked to the internet for online learning activities. There are both Google and Apple platforms in use.

Numerous volunteers help also. There is an art project led by Leslie Duncan. Local adult volunteers come to read with the students, or help with math. There are also presentations by local environmental experts. An academic team visiting the UCI reserve will make a student presentation on their Salton Sea research.

A multitude of local people, business and organizations provide financial support to this non-profit venture. This school is based on a program of no barriers to families. This means there is no cost, transportation is provided, and meals are provided. The program is expensive on a per-child basis, but yields dramatic positive results in educational performance.

The school works on a goal of five students for every teacher. This allows very focused individual attention, for 100 hours over four weeks. Reading is led by Tracy Eddy and Tania Fuerte. Math is taught by Lydia Gordon and Bretnee Schmaderer. English Language is taught by Harmony Sawyer and Kaitlen Caruso. Each of the aides is a BASIC scholar.

For additional information about BASIC and its educational programs, please see

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