TUPELO – Joyner Elementary Principal Jason Harris was impressed by what he saw Friday inside that plastic bubble that surrounds Rob Leake City Pool.
Joyner second-grade students who had been afraid to get near the water two weeks ago were darting under the ropes that divided the pool’s lanes. Others who hardly knew how to swim two weeks ago were diving into 12 feet of water – with instructors nearby, of course.
“That is a confidence boost and a life skill that you can’t take away from them,” Harris said. “That is something we want to spill over into the classroom.”
Friday was the final day of those lessons, and about 125 Joyner students received certificates for their participation in the SAFE SPLASH program, which began Nov. 8.
This is the first year that the Tupelo Public School District is offering the program, which was piloted by Joyner. Each of the school’s second-grade classes went to the pool next to the school for an hour a day for 10 days.
With Joyner’s students having completed the program, each of the district’s second-grade students at its four other K-2 schools will have their turn. Next in the rotation is Parkway Elementary, whose students will begin their swim lessons on Nov. 29.
The project is a collaboration between the school district and the Tupelo Parks and Recreation Department, which provided the facility and certified instructors, said Amy Williams, senior recreation director for Tupelo Parks and Recreation.
At least nine instructors were in the pool with the swimming students, said Joyner physical education teacher Glenda Clay, and they were divided into six different groups based on ability level.
“It was an incredible two weeks, seeing what they learned and the confidence they gained,” Clay said.
School and Recreation staff spent about a month developing a curriculum for the program that also incorporated physical education objectives.
One of its objectives was to teach those who had never previously swum and hopefully reduce the number of children who drown.
“We are teaching water safety,” Williams said.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal