TIPS students enjoying a math activity.

On July 19, 2017, members of the Communities in Schools of Pennsylvania staff attended the Teachers in the Parks (TIPS) Press Conference at the Antietam Valley Recreation and Community Center in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Teachers in the Parks is a summer learning program that aims to combat the summer slide. TIPS connects educators from schools across Berks County with students from their districts for math and language arts lessons. The unique element of the program is that it is conducted in an environment where kids can naturally be found during the summer months—local parks!

The TIPS model is not only low in overhead costs, it eliminates the stigma of the classic summer school experience and allows children to learn in a fun outdoor space. Most importantly, the model provides valuable learning that helps students with a smooth transition into the next grade level and bridge the summer gap.

At the press conference on Wednesday, July 20, we were able to see the TIPS program in action. Students gathered in small groups under shaded trees at the Antietam Valley Recreation and Community Center as their teachers led them in fun-filled interactive instruction. The students looked elated as they engaged in various math, reading and writing activities.

In addition, we had the honor of hearing several speakers at the press conference, including our very own President and State Director, Ryan Riley. Kind and encouraging words were also heard from Senator Judy Schwank; Matt Hathaway, founder of TIPS; David Hemberger, president of the Exeter School Board; Karen Rightmire, president of the Wyomissing Foundation; David W. Volkman, Executive Deputy Secretary of Education, and a number of spirited TIPS students.

CISPA has been a sponsor of TIPS since 2015, and being present to witness the outpouring of encouragement and relevant statistics stated at the press conference shed light upon just how necessary TIPS is.

Here are the facts:

Research shows that children in low-income households fall behind in reading during the summer, roughly by two months. Moreover, this loss is cumulative, with students depleting more and more knowledge each summer.

It can take up to seven weeks for students entering the next grade level to be on par with their new grade’s curriculum—which means that almost two months of valuable learning time are spent relearning old material.

“If we can maintain the academic levels for children, we can actually add about 25 percent more instructional time towards a grade level standard than if we just let kids go over the summer,” explained Hathaway. This is why summer learning programs like TIPS are so imperative. Our students should not have to suffer a setback.

TIPS is currently present in five Berks county school districts— Boyertown, Exeter, Gov. Mifflin, Schuylkill Valley and Wilson. CISPA looks forward to seeing their initiative grow across the state of Pennsylvania in the coming years—here at CISPA, we are all in for kids.

To find out more about TIPS and to support their cause, visit

A hand print mural created by TIPS students to show what they like about the program.


TIPS students reading.


The press conference setup.


Senator Judy Schwank endoreses the TIPS program.


Ryan Riley expresses his admiration for those who support TIPS.


Dr. David W. Volkman speaks to the benefits of TIPS.


Matt Hathaway demonstrates the effects of the summer slide with two TIPS students.