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Columbia Heights Public Schools Summer ENCORE Program Thrives in Virtual Setting


Columbia Heights Public Schools (CHPS) ENCORE programming offers extended learning opportunities focused on technology, arts, environmental studies, health/fitness and academic support beyond the school day. Traditionally, Summer ENCORE classes are held on-site, but with the recent COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s programming took place completely online.

“This year’s Summer ENCORE program was awesome,” said Summer ENCORE Principal Rick Ostby.  “Teachers taught students online, on their electronic devices, in real time which allowed face-to-face interaction and conversations to take place.”

Ostby said the biggest difference he saw this year was teachers having to plan and engage students, in addition to ensuring the technology was working and everyone was online, barring no other technology mishaps. Teachers really had to multitask in a way they isn’t always required in the traditional classroom setting. Daily participation averaged 75 percent.

“Although Summer ENCORE classes weren’t able to meet in person this year, it was great to be able to support our students virtually!” said Summer ENCORE Teacher Danielle Berg. “We built community in our virtual classrooms through daily zoom meetings and engaging activities to support student learning. It was a fun and new learning experience for students, families, and teachers!”

“Holding any student’s attention for two full hours can be challenging,” Ostby noted. “Our teachers worked collaboratively to set-up a schedule that met their student’s needs and they had ideas for lessons that engaged the students. Summer ENCORE is a collaboration that involves students, parents, teachers, administrators and District personnel. I would like to thank everyone that helped make Summer ENOCORE possible for our students.”

Students involved in extracurricular activities – from chess club to cheerleading to chorus – tend to have higher self-esteem and stronger connections to school. ENCORE programming is designed to provide engaging, hands-on, innovative offerings. Students create their own computer programs through coding, learn water safety and survival, solve complex engineering problems, increase confidence and skills through theatre and dance, express themselves artistically by creating pottery and gain an academic boost. All offerings are designed to provide students with the skills they will use to be successful in college and careers.

ENCORE is funded from a Minnesota Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Center grant. For more information about ENCORE programming, visit