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Summer Scholars Academy Week 5 Featured Site: Gravelly Hill Middle

Mrs. Crystal Medlin is the Summer Scholars Academy Site Director at Gravelly Hill Middle. She has been with Orange County Schools since 2005.  Her background is in high school science education. In May 2021, she graduated from the Masters in School Administration program at UNC-Chapel Hill as a Principal Fellows. Her other full-time “job” is as a mother of three sons, and wife to husband, Matt.

Mrs. Medlin stated that for her, the best part about Summer Scholars Academy has been watching the students reconnect with one another, after being distanced for so long, due to the pandemic.

At the Gravelly Hill site, students from all the OCS middle schools have come together in one location, in turn helping students to feel a sense of community and camaraderie.

“Students are working together in the classroom on projects, creating and performing with one another, and really getting to know their peers,” said Medlin. “I have loved getting to know the students and teachers.

“We really have some phenomenal educators in Orange County, and I have loved seeing them do what they do best!”

While the summer program schedule presents a longer day for students and teachers, brain breaks and movement breaks happen quite frequently. In addition, there is a little more social time penciled in for students throughout the day. 

“Teachers are making things exciting, engaging, and relevant to students,” said Medlin.

Students spend the mornings working on core content (Math and English/Language Arts), and the enrichment classes really rev up in the afternoons. 

“Most of the students are genuinely enjoying themselves and having fun while they're here!” she added.

Session 2 of Summer Scholars Academy is underway in the middle grades. In core areas right now, students are focusing on fractions, “mental math” in Kahn Academy (making educated guesses without calculators), word roots, reading strategies, reading fluency and comprehension, and more!

Enrichment includes Notes 4 Notes, NuVu, and SmartGirls/Boys!

In Notes 4 Notes, students get to show off their talents, creating artwork to align with their selection of artists and musical genres, story lines, and original songs and/or hip hop, rap lines displaying their unique vocal and lyrical abilities.

This session in NuVu Enrichment, students have begun a project where they will design a new piece of wearable technology, designed to improve quality of life for people with a variety of health conditions. 

And in SmartGirls/Boys, students are creating a city along North Carolina's coast! This involved a meeting with an architect who introduced students to the process used to determine what features to include in the new city. Students examined all the things city planners must consider, such as geography, climate, resources, culture and language, and density. The environment and ecosystem were explored, as well as popular attractions like swimming pools and tennis courts, farms and buildings. The results will yield handmade replicas of the new cities for display.