Category Archives for Come Live Over Here

PPS Summer Dreamers — proposal for 2020 SKWIM & Water Polo

Check out the proposal for SKWIM  & Water Polo. It is being made with the cooperation of The Pittsburgh Project.

This is a draft, and some changes are expected.

Application for PPS Summer Dreamers Academy 2020 for SKWIM & Water Polo with
The Pittsburgh Project and Coach Mark Rauterkus

Cover Page:

SKWIM & Water Polo

by Coach Mark Rauterkus and The Pittsburgh Project

Activity Name: SKWIM & Water Polo

Desired Number of Campers Per Block: 120.

Desire only double-block. Desire 60 campers at Camp South Hills and 60 at Camp PCA.

Preferred Block Type: Only interested in doing double block activity. Transition time is needed to change into and out of swim suits.

Preferred Site: Only interested in holding SKWIM & Water Polo at schools with pools.

For 2020, this includes both: Camp South Hills with access to the on-campus pool at Brashear High School and Camp PCA.

On Site: Activities are 95% on-site, with the exception of limited, off-site/cross-site, game-days & water carnival competitions.

Preferred Grades: Grades 3, 4, 5. Older students are preferred. Grade 2 is okay, but less desired. We want the greater majority of the kids to be tall enough, to be able to stand in the shallow end of the pool.

Total Proposal Cost: $266.60 x 60 students x 2 sites = $31,992

Total Proposal Cost per 75-minute block = $133.

Descriptive Blurb:

At the always productive and popular SKWIM & Water Polo Camp, directed by Coach Mark Rauterkus, students learn and improve swimming abilities, knowledge of aquatic game play and fitness. SKWIM (played with a disk) and water polo (with a ball) are teamwork games. We race, dive and stress passing, defense, sportsmanship, water safety, goal setting, and online literacy. Plus,we keep an eye on the daily sports news leading to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Japan.

Cover Letter:

Coach Mark Rauterkus
Head Lifeguard at The Pittsburgh Project
2801 N Charles Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15214

412-298-3432 = cell

January 22, 2020

Dear Administrators and Selection Committee for PPS Summer Dreamers:

Students in SKWIM & Water Polo gain valuable, life-saving skills that can lead to a lifetime of enjoyment in-and-around the water, as well as future employment as a lifeguard.

Too many kids can’t swim. The number of deaths in the water, both a pools and in natural settings, are too high. The statistics report that the water is especially dangerous within the ranks of the poor, African-Americans and adolescent males. We need to teach all our kids how to swim and gain a respect for the water for public safety sake.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that drowning is the leading cause of accidental dealth for children under the age of 4 and second leading for children under that age of 14. Seventy-nine percent of children in households with incomes less than $50,000 have little-to-no swimming ability. Research shows that 64% of African-American children have little to no swimming ability.

Formal swimming lessons reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88%. Furthermore, Summer Dreamers in water polo are always able to swim in the deep end by the end of camp, and often by the second week. Our high expectations and use of googles, fins, paddles, kick-boards, individual and group challenges and the clever e-course, Get Your Feet Wet – Swimming, zooms our progress. Many lessons and examples of the supporting digital learning are of our own show-off students, helping to connect the learning.

Knowing how to swim, and swim well, have so many benefits. Our efforts that advocate for more aquatic opportunities for kids includes the release of a list of more than 160 reasons why students should join their schools’ swim teams. This list (see true for this offering at Summer Dreamers. The quality experience and the consistency of practices at SKWIM & Water Polo Camp rivals the rigor and excitement provided to those who participate in theirPPS middle-school swim teams.

SKWIM and Water Polo game-play acts like rocket-fuel for the overall experience. Game-play engages and reinforces far more with our students than what the races of competitive swimming provides. We race too. The values with the sportsmanship, teamwork and rules coding changes are wonderful problem solving situations to witness among the youngsters.

In 2020, we want to return water polo to the PPS Summer Dreamer line-up because the staffing situations have been resolved through long-term persistence and partnership efforts from efforts with a large cadre of others that include: Lifeguard Workforce Development / Learn & Earn, Citiparks Aquatics, Allegheny County Parks, The Ellis School, Chatham University, International Swim Coaches Association, American Water Polo, SKWIM USA and by far, the most important, our hosting sponsor, The Pittsburgh Project.

In the recent summers, swim instruction and pool operations on the Northside at The Pittsburgh Project has been successful. Capacity building efforts with staffing and procedures now allow for the necessary guards and instructors. We are excited to offer the programs again. Water polo was part of the first eight years of PPS Summer Dreamers.

Thanks for the opportunity to serve our children, again, in 2020.

Sincerely yours,

Coach Mark Rauterkus

412-298-3432 = cell

Boys, girls, camp coaches at swim pool.

Rohan, Toby and swimmers with Swim & Water Polo at PPS Summer Dreamers at Highland Park Pool.

Article about summers in Pittsburgh and Summer Dreamers

Gislene Tasayco in afterschoolCities - GeneralEducationequityGeneralYouthon 

What began as a project of five cities in 2011 to research whether summer learning programs that offer a mix of academic instruction and enrichment opportunities can boost success in school quickly turned into a commitment to understand and improve the role that summer learning plays in closing the opportunity gap for students. One of the five cities selected to participate in the Wallace Foundation’s National Summer Learning Project was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In 2011, the City of Pittsburgh had over 23 percent of its residents living at or below the poverty level, many of whom were low-income students attending Pittsburgh Public Schools. For some students, just attending school can be overwhelming, but layering on issues of hunger, homelessness, violence and inequitable learning opportunities presents new challenges that low-income students are forced to overcome.

What happens when learning takes a vacation during summer break?

Over summer vacation, it’s normal for students to forget some of what they learned during the school year, but summer slide (the loss of some of the math and reading achievement gains students make during the previous school year) takes its biggest toll on low-income students, contributing substantially to the achievement and opportunity gap that exists between them and their higher-income peers.

A recent webinar hosted by the National League of Cities featuring Catherine Augustine from the RAND Corporation, Christine Cray from Pittsburgh Public Schools, and Kathryn Vargas from the City of Pittsburgh highlights how these challenges can seem insurmountable.

“There are a number of ways that low-income students are at a disadvantage over the summer. They experience slower rates of learning, fewer enrichment opportunities, less access to healthy food and meal options, and spend more time sedentary,” Augustine said. She shared RAND’s findings from its Learning from the Summer report.

With that in mind and through the support of the Wallace Foundation’s National Summer Learning Project, Pittsburgh Public Schools and community partners like the City of Pittsburgh set out to expand summer opportunities for low-performing, low-income students.

Leveraging School District and City Resources to Expand Programming Benefits

For 27 days in the summer, Pittsburgh Public Schools students who participate in the school district’s Summer Dreamers Academy enjoy a full day of academic learning and enrichment with access to free breakfast and lunch as well as transportation. What once started as a way to invest in a robust and fun summer learning program for elementary school students now serves as both an employment and partnership opportunity across the school district and city.

Today, the Summer Dreamers Academy serves over 2,000 K- 8 students and employs over 60 teens and young adults between the ages of 14 and 21 from the City of Pittsburgh’s Learn&Earn summer youth employment program. Not only does the partnership support staff capacity for Summer Dreamers, but it also serves as a workforce training program. The City pays for bus passes for the youth workers, while the school district hired staff to teach workforce skills including resume building, coming to work on time, getting a paycheck, etc.

With a 24 percent child poverty rate, “city investments like the Learn&Earn summer youth employment program puts money in the hands of young people and provides a job opportunity for them are critical for the city to be considering as we think about best serving our residents,” Vargas said.

Elected Officials Have a Stake to Play

Summers without quality learning opportunities put our nation’s youth at risk for falling behind – year after year – in core subjects like math and reading. High-quality learning opportunities during the summer can make a difference in stemming learning loss and ultimately, closing the achievement and opportunity gap.

According to the results from the National Summer Learning Project, students that participated in high-quality summer learning programs outperformed peers in mathematics, English language arts and social-emotional learning.

“In all of the cities, mayors served as strong champions for the work,” Augustine said.

Moreover, she outlined ways that mayors serve as champions for summer learning, including:

  • Convening key stakeholders to set a vision for summer learning;
  • Holding press conferences in support of summer learning programs;
  • Leveraging city staff and departments such as Parks & Recreation, Libraries, and Police to promote access to high-quality programs;
  • Developing a program locator website for city residents to easily find summer learning opportunities; and
  • Forming summer learning task forces to identify and target resources to neighborhoods most in need.

“We are fortunate to have a robust summer Learn&Earn program. Our Mayor, Bill Peduto, is particularly invested in this, in fact, the program has grown under his tenure,” Vargas said.

All municipal leaders and city teams are invited to learn more about the role the cities can play to support summer learning programs by listening to our #Cities4Summer: The Role of Cities to Scale Summer Learning Efforts webinar recording here and to check out the Wallace Foundation’s Knowledge Center for additional resources to support summer learning.

Gislene Tasayco smallAbout the Author: Gislene Tasayco is the senior associate for NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families Education and Expanded Learning team.

Unofficial news for Swim Coaches in WPIAL from Coach Mark

There are a number of activities unfolding in our neck of the woods. This newsletter was passed to fellow coaches at a meeting hosted at Bethel Park about computer issues in competitive swimming. 

TYPO below: The meeting is on November 13, 2019, as stated everywhere else.

Lifeguard Recruitment Initiative invite letter

The other site,, is where the lifeguard news is going to be placed.

Voting “NO” on the city ballot question that would raise taxes. Plus, I love our parks!

Pittsburgh City Council members Deb Gross, Anthony Coghill, Theresa Kail-Smith, and Darlene Harris have all come out against the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s ballot referendum that, if successful, would increase city property taxes to create a fund that would help maintain Pittsburgh parks, while giving Conservancy officials “some say in the spending” of that public revenue, the PG’s Rich Lord reports. In a joint press release, Coghill and Kail-Smith leaned on the issue of affordability for homeowners who may “struggle to pay their mortgage, food, and medical bills,” while Gross wrote that her concerns center on accountability, pointing out that the Conservancy “has spent nearly a million dollars for your vote on a referendum with no term limit.”

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