Rogers University kicks off third year

While most kids dread the thought of even stepping foot in a school during the summer, more than 100 were eager to head back to Rogers Elementary Monday morning for the start of the summer program, Rogers University.

The program is in its third year, and Rogers Principal Mick Jurgensen said each year it gets bigger and better. He couldn’t believe how excited the kids were to be back in the school, learning everything from reading and math skills to life skills, he said.

“The kids are happy to be back,” Jurgensen said. “We’ve had an awesome day.”

This year, 55 preschool students, nearly 100 kindergarten through third grade students and 75 fourth through sixth grade students who live in the Rogers neighborhood are taking part in the program, which Jurgensen said is not referred to as summer school.

“It is not summer school,” he said. “We’ve banned those words.”

Jurgensen said there are two different parts to Rogers University. The kids focus on different subjects throughout the day at the school, and then they will go out in the community to places like Marshalltown Community College, the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA and the Orpheum to do hands-on learning.

“Marshalltown has really opened its arms to the kids,” he said.

Jurgensen said 40 licensed teachers and 16 program helpers have been hired for the summer program, which is funded mostly by grants.

“Once the teachers have taught at university, they want to come back,” he said. “They really love the program and love the kids.”

Jodi Kolbe, first grade teacher at Rogers and Rogers University instructor, said she’s been doing the program for all three years.

She said it’s rewarding to see the kids grow each year.

“It’s such a great chance for the kids to do a catch-up on their growth,” she said. “They’re excited to come every day; it’s very rewarding.”

Jurgensen said he is looking forward to seeing the program expand in the future, and he and other teachers at Rogers have seen positive things come from Rogers University.

“We had a school year we hadn’t had in a long time, and a lot of it had to do with this progress,” he said. “You know it’s made an impact when kids are crying on the last day of school because they don’t want to leave.”