Art teacher Aletha Tatge (center) instructs Tylynne Smith and a dozen or more other first- and second-grade children who are attending summer school at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Marysville. Subjects taught include age math, reading, Spanish, music and art. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Art teacher Aletha Tatge (center) instructs Tylynne Smith and a dozen or more other first- and second-grade children who are attending summer school at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Marysville. Subjects taught include age math, reading, Spanish, music and art. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church summer school focuses on basics

MARYSVILLE — At one cluster of tables in the church basement, Mike Wray is guiding a handful of kids through basic addition and subtraction problems.

In another part of the room, Candice Ferguson reads to a small circle of kids from a picture book. More kids work on an art project in another room.

Rev. Terry Kyllo, the pastor at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, oversees the room.

It’s a small gathering of 13 kids and almost as many adult volunteers, but its the root of what Kyllo hopes will catch on elsewhere: summer school.

“This is not vacation Bible school. There’s enough of those going on, and I’m kind of bored with vacation Bible school,” Kyllo said. “But we are committed to our mission of working on poverty.”

The genesis of the program came about three years ago when Kyllo heard the Marysville School District had no money for a summer school program.

He and others in the church talked about it. One member, who is a teacher, cited statistics that poorer children tend to lose a grade level of reading and math over the course of a summer, and that students who don’t read at grade level by the end of the third grade have a greater chance of being incarcerated later in life.

“Everyone sat up straight when they heard this,” Kyllo said.

The church partnered with the school district to set up a curriculum, and by July, 13 kids were in the parish hall reading and working on math.

They kept the program running, and it’s now in its third year.

It’s still small: 14 incoming first- and second-graders. They meet for two weeks, each offering four days of instruction. And the program is designed primarily to maintain the kids’ learning, provide them with meals, and help students build confidence and social skills.

And it’s all free. St. Philip’s funded the program with a $4,000 grant from the Tulalip Tribes. The grant also provides money for the church’s weekend feeding program at Liberty Elementary School and a homework club at Pinewood Elementary School.

The agenda for this summer’s school is math, reading and Spanish. Students also get music and art on alternate days. Breakfast, a snack and lunch are provided, and at the end of the day, the kids can take part in low-key and optional chapel experience, Kyllo said.

In the reading unit, Candice Ferguson, a retired elementary school teacher from Snohomish, leads the kids through several exercises designed to test their vocabulary, read books together and practice visualization exercises that help the kids express themselves.

When it comes time to read a book on fireflies, the kids chime in with learned vocabulary and other cues.

“A firefly is a …,” Ferguson began.

“Beetle!” the kids called out.

“He flies in the night and flashes his light,” Ferguson continued.

“Blink blink!” Atabey Lopez chimed in.

For the last session of the day, Aletha Tatge gathered the kids for an art lesson.

She told the kids that the day’s exercise would be to paint a coconut tree. First she guided the kids in a breathing exercise to help them relax and get into the zone.

“When you take a brush, take a breath and when you apply that brush to canvas, let it go. What does breathing do for you?” Tatge said.

“It makes you calm and feel good about yourself,” Tylynne Smith offered.

Tatge, a former Navy officer, commanded the kids’ attention.

“Paintbrushes down, eyes on me — thank you — and I’ll demonstrate,” Tatge said, and she showed the kids how to wet their brushes, dilute the watercolors, and begin applying the paint to paper.

She worked the room and offered guidance to each of the kids: “Put some more water on yours.” “Breathe in.” “Oh, you’re making waves, good!”

When she noticed Tylynne’s tree wasn’t coming out right, she turned it into a teachable moment.

“Tylynne is going through a phase of art we call ‘frustration.’ You’re not happy with yours, are you?” she said. Tylynne shook her head.

To everyone, she added: “This is called the ugly phase of your picture, because no one knows what’s going to happen.”

During snack and meal breaks, volunteers sit and eat with the kids, and Kyllo does a bit of “stand-up” to keep them engaged: Animal noises first, singing voices later.

Even the stand-up has a goal: the kids’ confidence grows during the school sessions, and many of them showcase their own talents to the other kids, Kyllo said.

He said he would like to expand the length and breadth of the school, and said some churches up in Skagit County now offer a full summer school. He hopes the idea catches on in Snohomish County.

“Our hope is to see some of these other churches do some of the same stuff,” he said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A Cessna 150 crashed north of Paine Field on Friday evening, Feb. 16, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. The pilot survived without serious injury. (Courtesy of Richard Newman.)
‘I’m stuck in the trees’: 911 call recounts plane crash near Paine Field

Asad Ali was coming in for a landing in a Cessna 150 when he crashed into woods south of Mukilteo. Then he called 911 — for 48 minutes.

Everett
Snohomish County likely to feel more like winter, beginning Monday

Get ready for a mix of rain and snow this week, along with cooler temperatures.

Anthony Boggess
Arlington man sentenced for killing roommate who offered shelter

Anthony Boggess, 33, reported hearing the voices of “demons” the night he strangled James Thrower, 65.

Ryan Rafter appears in court for sentencing Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Man sentenced to life in prison for murder of Everett father

In April 2022, Ryan Rafter, 42, shot Christopher Buck, 29, to death after breaking in to his home to steal drugs.

Marysville
Driver strikes, kills Marysville man who was crossing I-5 in Seattle

The man’s car had broken down near Mercer Street. Troopers reported that he was struck when he tried to cross the freeway.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Police: Darrington woman stabbed, buried 5-year-old daughter

The woman reportedly told investigators she was hearing voices before she killed her young daughter on Valentine’s Day.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

A person walks out of the Snohomish County Corrections building on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County Jail review finds no fault in Florida inmate’s death

David Koeppen, 38, was the third inmate in two months to die in the jail. He was being held on murder charges.

Everett
Snohomish County pharmacy tech accused of stealing 2,500 opioid pills

Rachel Langdon stole oxycodone while working at a Snohomish County pharmacy, according to state Department of Health allegations.

Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, left, a member of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, speaks Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, right, looks on at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. After the speech, Inslee signed a bill sponsored by McCoy that seeks to improve oral health on Indian reservations in Washington state. The measure is the first bill the governor has signed this legislative session and it allows tribes to use federal funding for dental therapists. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Curriculum on state tribes to be renamed after late Tulalip legislator

On Tuesday, John McCoy’s former colleagues in the Senate honored the late lawmaker by passing House Bill 1879.

Lynnwood
Man stabbed, killed inside Lynnwood-area condo

Detectives were looking to identify suspects in a killing Monday night at the Brio Condominiums.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.