She would have liked to have stayed a few more years, but after ten years, the founder of the Zaanse Summer School Margreet Dekker (66) is seriously retiring. Because not everyone has it easy, she committed herself to giving children a good time during the summer holidays. Just before she leaves, De Zaanse answers seven questions.
1. Why did you start the Zaanse Summer School?
“They came from Zaan Primary with the question: ‘We need to set up a summer school. It still needs to be fully designed. It needs to be academic but also creative. We thought you would be the right person for it.’ I immediately thought it was a great job and I grabbed it with both hands.”
Why are you so eager to teach the kids this summer?
“My motivation is to give the children plenty of time during the summer holidays and let them experience and experience something. I came from a very ordinary family, but we always went on holiday and always experienced something. Building fires with my father, going on scavenger hunts through the woods with my mother at night. You experienced something that you look back on fondly. The longer it was, the more fun it was.
The idea that there are children hanging around the house all holiday and experiencing nothing, I find very sad. That’s why I strive to let children have experiences.”
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What did it look like in the beginning?
“We started with groups of fourteen children. Immediately with two teachers. A teacher and a teacher’s assistant, the system we have now. I think it was four weeks, but then the teachers still had six weeks off and still stayed, could I found more than enough people for it then, which was no problem at all.
We learned a lot in those four weeks. For example, having children around you for four weeks makes you very tired, especially if you organize it our way. Reading, language and mathematics in the morning and workshops in the afternoon. You get tired of that yourself, but so do the children.”
2. What were your expectations in 2012?
“I expected kids to sign up in droves. It wasn’t like that at all. I had teachers, but no students. I’m a member of the Rotary Club, where you can discuss things about your work in confidence, and I have it all. kind of tips about it. I took a few pieces out of it, such as several ads in the newspaper, a flyer and the teaching included.
Originally I thought: an email to the teacher is sufficient. In the beginning, the teachers in particular had some resistance to the summer school. They thought it was pathetic that children had to go to school during the holidays. It was also somewhat common among parents, although they were immediately happy that there was something for their child during the holidays. Of course, it wasn’t always the right idea, because it’s not intended as a childcare facility. It was mainly fighting the unknown.”
Now the summer school is very well known in the area. In recent years, there have been more than 500 registrations. Due to the lack of teachers, not all children can get a place. How do you see it in the future?
“The signals are not yet favorable. Of course, you don’t know what the future holds, but I think we are dealing with the teacher shortage now and that it is the year after corona. Everyone had such a great need to go on vacation. I think those two things are at stake now, but I fear that next year it will be very difficult to find teachers.”
“It was mainly about fighting the unknown”
“Since corona, we have had 500 students, before that 250. For 250 students, you need ten groups and 20 people. The last two years I had 40 people. Now I also had to use 40 people, but I didn’t get further than 24. there was a significant shortage and the registrations went very well.
So I stopped enrolling during the May holidays, when we were at 400 students. I thought: ‘Maybe I should disappoint 100 students and cancel’. Then my driver came up with the idea Weekend academy Hiring. He would try that.”
In 2020, the teachers Jurriën and Gaby talked about the Zaanse Summer School. The text continues below the report.
3. Which story about a student is most memorable to you?
“For years I had one who had all her daughters in summer school. One of those girls knew she wasn’t that smart and that there wasn’t much to it. But in the end she chose a vocational high school education. That mother then became happy and said, “I think it’s because of the summer school, because that’s how she saw that learning can also be fun.”
It is hard to imagine that a child in elementary school hates learning. In my opinion, you naturally go through such a public school. But it is not so. If you have such a happy parent, then I am happy. Or if you receive a message from a parent: ‘For the first time, my children go to school, they don’t go to school crying.’ Then you think ‘how pathetic, because that means they haven’t gone to school for years”.
4. The groups are a little bigger and the week is shorter, but what has been the biggest change in the past ten years?
“That we know how to reach the target group better and better. We like mixed groups, it works well. Then they help each other. You don’t want a group that is like-minded.
We used to have children who hardly needed help. We have been very aware of this in recent years. Of course, we want the children who have really fallen behind. Unfortunately, a child’s social background often plays a role.’
5. Are you completely satisfied with the current form of summer school?
“Yes, I think I have gradually found the ideal form. And I am convinced that improvements can still be made in different places. I also always try to be open to changes from the outside. I that the judo and boxing lessons became free available and then I go straight to it.
Overall, the summer school is still as we intended it to be, but every year you ask yourself: ‘Was this the best version, or could it be better?’ In fact, you automatically get the thought or insight ‘that part could be even better’. That’s what I focus on.”
6. Where do you hope the Summer School will be in ten years, even if it is without you?
“I would have liked to have seen for myself whether I could have continued per year. At least I have the sense and energy for that. But I am not the summer school. The summer school is for the children. children can experience a fun, educational summer school. And if that can be guaranteed, then I will be very happy. I am only concerned with the children.”
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“I’m going to miss it, but I can honestly say that searching and finding teachers was quite a job. And I just wanted to do that job again, but it’s not always nice. If that’s the most important thing, what worked a little this year, you have less and less time for the really important things. But this just has to be, because without teachers you have no summer school.”
Has a sequel been announced yet?
“No, the board will see how it goes next year. And whoever is asked, it could be the Weekend Academy. It’s still open.”
7. What if the summer school disappeared?
“I would consider it a great loss for the kids. For most students, it’s just a good time, three weeks of summer school. I think it’s a necessary facility. They have structure and very nice things happen to them.
In the beginning we still had the idea: then we would train them and catch up. But if a child is a weak student, he is still a weak student after summer school. But sometimes another explanation, teacher or master ensures that a ball drops. It makes me happy. We have a lot of time to explain it.”
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