Focus on Learning: Don't "slide" this summer!

LAUNCH sail is an academically based program geared at maintaining and developing academic skills over the summer months in order to address summer regression; also known as the “summer slide”. Class sizes are small allowing teachers to target each individual student’s needs and provide a hands-on, multi-sensory approach to learning. This creates a fun and engaging experience for students.

Details & Options

Details & Options


  • Three or four classes in chosen subject areas

  • Either AM or PM


  • Seven classes

  • Lunch is from 12:00 pm – 12:30 pm. Students are responsible for providing their own lunch.

Classes Offered

  • Reading
  • Math
  • Study Strategies/Written Language
  • Social Awareness
  • Technology
  • Art
  • Music


When: July 7, 2020 through August 13, 2020.
Weeks 1-6: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 9:00 am to 2:45 pm

Where: Pine Grove Middle School, 6318 Fremont Road, East Syracuse, NY 13057

Program Fees: three classes – $525.00; four classes – $625.00; seven classes – $930.00

  • Deposit of 50% due at registration, with remaining balance due Tuesday, July 7, 2020.

  • Partial scholarships are available. Deadline for applications is June 24, 2020.

  • 10% discount for each additional child in family.

  • 20% processing fee to withdraw.


  • Classes offered include reading, math, written language/study strategies, social awareness, technology, art, and music.

  • Class periods are 45 minutes in length.

  • Each child has an individual schedule based on class selection.

  • Students are grouped according to age.

  • Class size is no more than eight students per teacher.

  • Classes are taught by highly-qualified teachers who work in local school districts during the school year.

  • The teachers are responsible for designing their own curriculum to address the needs of the students, with the exception of reading class, in which the teachers are required to use the Orton-Gillingham/Wilson method.

  • The program strives to achieve the following outcomes for each student: 

    • learning

    • experience success

    • have fun

    • experience no regression

    • maintain academic growth

    • develop strategies

    • learn new skills

    • develop social skills

    • develop new friendships.

  • Students of varying abilities participate in the program, including, but not limited to, typical learners, students diagnosed with a learning disability and/or ADHD, and higher functioning students on the autism spectrum.


Kayla Gallipeau

Kayla Gallipeau


Kayla Gallipeau is currently a third grade teacher at Meachem Elementary School.  Kayla has been teaching for four years in the Syracuse City School District.  She acquired her Bachelor’s Degree in Childhood Education from SUNY Cortland in 2011 and her Master’s Degree in Literacy from SUNY Cortland in 2013. Outside of teaching, Kayla enjoys running, playing beach volleyball, and spending time with family and friends.  Kayla is extremely excited to explore new adventures with the students and teachers in SAIL!

Tamara LaVallee
Teaching Assistant

Tamara LaVallee

Teaching Assistant

Tamara Lavallee is currently a Special Education Teaching Assistant in the West Genesee School District. She has worked there for 12 years. Tamara has worked in an inclusion classroom setting for 9 years and has experience working with students of all abilities. She is excited to work in the SAIL program this summer.

Brandi Tourin-Finger
Dianne Pennings
Associate Executive Director for Programs

Dianne Pennings

Associate Executive Director for Programs

Dianne has over 25 years of experience in the field of special education.  She began her teaching experience in a self-contained classroom and within a year was visiting schools to implement inclusion programs.  Her passion for educating youth has never wavered, even as she has stepped into an administrative role.

Mara Yuzwak

Mara Yuzwak


Mara Yuzwak (pronounced Usewalk) has worked with several reading programs and was a pilot teacher for the Wilson Just Words program. Most recently, she supported middle school students via the Language Live! reading program. Currently, she works as a middle school consultant teacher within the Syracuse City School District. Prior to this, she worked within the district as a pilot teacher for students with autism and as a self-contained teacher for students with emotional disabilities. Mara states, “I am passionate about teaching students how to advocate for themselves in appropriate ways so that their needs can be better met socially, emotionally, and academically. I believe that while structure is a necessity in a classroom, flexibility is of equal value. It is important to teach in a manner that is meaningful to the students and to allow them, when appropriate, to make choices in the way they learn.”

Renee Berlucchi
Director of Education

Renee Berlucchi

Director of Education

Renee earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary and Special Education as well as her Master’s Degree in Elementary and Special Education with a Reading Specialist Degree from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She has over 10 years of experience within the special education realm as a Learning Support Teacher, Autistic Support Teacher, Teacher Mentor, and Classroom Coordinator. 

Renee is also a yoga instructor and an avid runner. During her free time she also enjoys spending time with her friends and family.

Lisa Bianchi

Lisa Bianchi


Lisa Bianchi is currently an Educational Instructor at LAUNCH. Lisa has over 25 years of experience providing services to youth and adults with disabilities. Lisa has been involved in the SAIL program for over 20 years. She is very excited to be teaching in SAIL this summer. Lisa is looking forward to sharing her love of reading with her students

Sail Curriculum

Study Strategies & Writing
Social Awareness


Teacher: Lisa Bianchi


During the first week of SAIL, students were administered the WADE (Wilson Assessment of Decoding and Encoding) to determine their level of instruction and phonics abilities.  Your child will receive multisensory instruction in a very sequential manner, daily.  In addition to phonics instruction, your child will work on building vocabulary, fluency (reading naturally and smoother), and comprehension.

Below are the skills which will be addressed throughout the SAIL Program:

  • Daily sound reinforcement
  • Sky write/letter formation (kinesthetic approach using their body to make letters and write words)
  • Read consonant-vowel-consonant words (ie cat)
  • Tap out words as a strategy to assist with decoding
  • Read and spell short vowel and vowel-consonant –e words in one and two syllable words.
  • Read and write words with digraphs (sh, ch, wh, ck, th)
  • Read write words with blends (c l o w n )
  • Learn trick words (high frequency words that are difficult to spell)
  • Scooping strategies to help teach fluency
  • Bonus letters: ll, ff, ss (one syllable words that end with l, f, or s need to be doubled (ie: still, huff, hiss)
  • Read and write words with welded sounds (am, an, all, ank, ink, onk, unk)
  • Read and write words with suffixes
  • Reinforce writing complete sentences (capital letters, punctuation, and finger spaces between words)
  • Students will write words and sentences from dictation
  • Use the Wilson Writing Grid to practice neat letter formation and staying within the lines while writing
  • Keep a student notebook to practice new skills taught

While this is a very structured and systematic program, hands on activities will be incorporated into each class.


In this class, the students will learn and practice various strategies for reading comprehension.  Comprehension, or extracting meaning from what you read, is an important goal of reading.  The process of comprehension is both interactive and strategic.  Rather than passively reading text, readers must analyze it and make it their own.  This class will introduce students to the following general strategies for reading comprehension:

1. Use knowledge/Preview

  • Preview text to tap into already learned knowledge in order to help understand the text one is about to read. This provides a framework for the information about to be read.

2. Predicting

  • Make predictions about the text one is about to read, sets up expectations based on prior knowledge about similar topics.

3. Identify the main idea and summarization

  • Identify the main idea and summarize information to determine what is important.
  • Write information from text into own words

4. Question

  • Ask and answer questions in order to help focus on and understand the meaning of text.

5. Make Inferences

  • Draw on prior knowledge and recognize clues in the text itself.

6. Visualize 

  • Use illustrations that are embedded in the text or create own mental images or drawings when reading text without illustrations.


Teacher: Kayla Gallipeau

This course is designed to reinforce mathematical skills and strategies learned in the school year.  Everyday students will follow teacher modeling and will have independent practice sessions where the students will use their own critical thinking skills as they work through the grade appropriate topics.  In addition, this class will encompass interactive, multi-sensory approaches to further enhance student learning. Skills and topics are taught based on the students’ needs of improvement and understanding of topics from the most current grade level.  For each grade level, there are several main topics that will be addressed this summer in SAIL, which are listed below under specific grade levels.

Kindergarten focus:

  • Counting and Cardinality: includes knowing number names and the count sequence, count to tell the number of objects, understanding of ordinal numbers, comparing numbers
  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking: understanding addition as putting together and adding to, and understand subtraction as taking apart
  • Geometry: identify and describe shapes and their attributes

First Grade Focus:

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking: understanding and applying properties of operations and relationship between addition and subtraction, add/subtract within 20, represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction
  • Number and Operations in Base Ten: extending the counting sequence, understanding place value, using place value and properties of operations to add and subtract
  • Geometry: to reason with shapes and their attributes

Second Grade Focus:

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking: represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction, add/subtract within 20, work with equal groups to gain foundations in multiplication
  • Number and Operations in Base Ten: understand place value, use place value understanding and properties of operations to add and subtract
  • Geometry: reason with shapes and their attributes

Third Grade Focus:

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking: understand relationship between multiplication and division, multiply/divide within 100, solve word problems involving four operations and explain patterns in arithmetic.
  • Numbers and Operations in Base Ten: use place value understanding and properties of operations to perform multi-digit arithmetic
  • Number and Operations (Fractions): develop understanding of fractions as numbers

Fourth Grade focus:

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking: use four operations with whole numbers to solve problems, familiarity with factors and multiples, analyze patterns
  • Numbers and Operations in Base Ten: generalize place value understanding for multi-digit whole numbers, use place value understanding and properties of operations to perform multi-digit arithmetic
  • Fractions: build fractions from unit fractions, understanding equivalent fractions and ordering, decimal notation for fractions and compare decimal fractions

Fifth Grade focus:

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking: write and interpret numerical expressions, analyze patterns and relationships
  • Number and Operations (Fractions): use equivalent fractions as a strategy to add and subtract fractions, apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication and division to multiply and divide fractions

Sixth Grade focus:

  • The Number System: apply understandings of multiplication and division to divide fractions by fractions, compute fluently with multi-digit numbers and find common factors and multiples
  • Expressions and Equations: reason about and solve one-variable equations and inequalities, apply and extend previous understandings of arithmetic to algebraic expressions

Over the course of the next six weeks, students will be exposed to a multi-modal approach to mathematics. Students will develop an understanding for counting, cardinality, addition, subtraction and geometric shapes. Children will learn multiple math strategies that are useful in everyday life. Children will use problem solving and critical thinking skills during this class. The topics covered in this class are basic foundational skills that students will build upon as they progress through their schooling. Whole group and small group activities will be utilized in this class to promote socialization and cooperation among all the students in order to create a friendly environment.

Week 1: Counting and Cardinality - Students will be introduced to counting strategies and will participate in hands-on activities to help them develop an understanding of numbers 1-20.

Week 2: Counting and Cardinality - Students will build on what they understand from week 1’s work and demonstrate their knowledge of numbers 1-20 through different activities.

Week 3: Geometric Shapes - Students will learn about two-dimensional shapes and their attributes. We will discuss where we see shapes in the world around us through different activities in order to make a connection to the students’ lives.  

Week 4: Addition - Through the use of story problems and manipulatives students will learn how to add small quantities together. Students will understand that addition is putting two quantities together to make a whole.

Week 5: Addition - Through different whole group and small group activities students will complete addition problems within 10. Students will use different manipulatives to “show what you know” and write addition equations.

Week 6: Subtraction - Once students have an understanding of numbers to 20 and addition, subtraction will be introduced during the final week. Through different games and activities students will solve subtraction problems within 10.

Study Strategies & Writing

Teacher: Lisa Bianchi

The purpose of this course is to encourage and teach the students to incorporate study skills into their writing.  Students will learn strategies to assist them in organizing and structuring their writing.  The following will be covered:

Organizing Ideas:

  1. Categorizing
    • Students will learn how to sort ideas into visual categories using age appropriate graphic organizers.
  2. Outlining
    • Students will identify a topic and supporting facts from age appropriate text.
  3. Writing
    • Students will write informative/explanatory narratives in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.

Listening/Following Directions:

  1. Listening/Oral Directions
    • Students will follow the rules and routines of the classroom.
    • Students will listen and follow multi-step directions.
  2. Written Directions
    • Students will understand written directions, interpret them, and perform tasks independently.
    • Students will retell written directions to check for accurate understanding.
    • Students will underline key words in written directions, or box-out the directions.

Students will be able to implement their study skills by writing an ABC book about Nature.  Our activities will include nature hikes to identify subjects and to take photos for each book.  Students will be encouraged to complete the writing process in order to create their very own ABC book about Nature.

Subject: Writing/Study Skills                                                                                               Teacher: Lindsay Kaley

This course is designed to reinforce writing skills while incorporating student strengths and interests as well as a multisensory approach. Students from grades K-6 will be given individualized instruction that is tailored to what they need while ensuring that they remain engaged as active participants in their own learning. In this course, students not only explore various genres, but they are taught organizational skills different mindset approaches that will assist them throughout their school careers. Listed below are several key topics and skills that are focused on throughout this summer in SAIL. 

Grades K-2

  • Letter formation with a multisensory approach (clay, paint, sand, chalk etc.)
  • Journaling on presented topics as a way to organize and express thoughts and feelings
  • Reinforcement of reading skills such as sight words through forming and writing sentences including them
  • Sentence structure reinforcement through hands-on activities
  • Sequencing of writing and story-telling through real-world experiences
  • Exploration and application of genres such as opinion writing, poetry and narrative storytelling through brainstorming, partner work and individualized presentations

Grades 3 and 4

  • Explore genres such as persuasive, narrative, informative and poetry writing in a meaningful context that is unique to the students as individuals
  • Learn how to utilize different organizational strategies in order to clearly portray their ideas
  • Participate in whole group, partner and independent work in a format that allows for them to manage time and resources efficiently
  • Participate in discussions with peers that center on collaboration and the value of everyone’s unique perspectives
  • Students are given the freedom to apply their own topics of interests when working within each given genre of writing

Grades 5 and 6

  • Students explore the same genres and the younger students listed above, but with the goal of preparing them for the writing expectations of middle school
  • Students apply major aspects of the genres in a variety of contexts, focusing on the writing process in middle school curriculum (Brainstorming, Partner Feedback, Revision, Publication, etc.) 
  • Students are encouraged to use real-world topics and examples as well as individual topics of interests in order to create a meaningful and unique learning experience


Teacher: Brandie Finger-Touron

This course is designed to allow students a creative outlet within the day to explore art materials and express their creativity. Students will use a variety of mediums to create projects and crafts which use multiple intelligences daily. With each project students learn specific techniques for creating art, while given freedom to make the project their own with creativity and choice. Projects are age appropriate and are often aligned with learning goals in other classrooms. Students also have an opportunity to communicate about their own art and the art of others. Art has something for every child by providing the space to use individual skills and interests to create beautiful works of art.

Week One

  • Introduction to materials, opportunity to share
  • Conversation and games geared around art
  • Opportunities to try out different mediums with self-directed projects
  • Routines and Expectations for the Art Room
  • Name signs

Week Two:

  • Science and Art
  • How does technology include art?
  • Isn’t space beautiful
  • Are there aliens out there?

Week Three:

  • Around the globe with Art
  • How do cultures around the world create art?
  • Can we make art showing animals around the world?
  • Nature and Art

Week Four:

  • Poetry and Art
  • Analyzing a variety of literature and accompanying illustrations
  • Children will make their own short story with illustrations produced with their choice of medium

Week Five:

  • Students will complete projects which focus on a variety of artists, historical and temporary
  • Exposure to famous artists and their work
  • Opportunities to replicate some well-known art pieces.

Week Six:

  • Student directed art projects
  • Using art for relationships
  • Activities with social and emotional connections
  • Connecting art with music and performance opportunities


Teacher: Carla Donohue

Today, technology is used as a tool to enhance the learning process. This class will provide an overview of the basic functions of personal computers and instructs students in how to use them. It is designed for k-8 students with varying levels of knowledge. Our purpose is to make students comfortable with personal computers and to provide the knowledge and skills needed to perform the major computer functions in an educational setting. These skills will be applied through the form of keyboarding curricula, Microsoft© Office applications and Google© applications. Students will also learn about different sites that will assist in further developing skills in reading, writing and mathematics.

Keyboarding: Keyboarding, the ability to operate a keyboard efficiently while typing, is an important skill that allows students to write fluently and communicate more effectively, and is critical to success in school, college, and careers in the 21st Century. Students will receive instruction on technique including proper posture and hand placement, as well as speed and accuracy, through formal and informal teaching strategies and uses of programs.

Microsoft© Word:

Microsoft Word is one of the most popular word processing programs in use and allows users to create a wide variety of text documents, including everything from letters and class projects to brochures and greeting cards. Students will have the ability to practice writing skills, while learning ways to create a range of text documents for use at school and home. Users will be able to utilize tools like “copy and paste,” spell check, and grammar check and features such as formatting, editing, spacing, margins, page numbers and saving a document.

Microsoft© PowerPoint:

Students will learn how to create a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation by using specific functions such as how to create a slide, adding content (text, graphics, objects and pictures), and learning skills in order to present to an audience.

Introduction to Google© Suite:

Google© Suite gives teachers the freedom to spend more time personalizing the learning experience and less time managing it. Students will learn 21st-century problem-solving skills they’ll use in their future careers, with accessibility features, such as setting up a Gmail account and using Google© Docs, Slides, Classroom and Forms to create more engaging ways of learning and communicating.

Additional Educational Apps:

Students will be introduced to select age-appropriate apps and websites designed to reinforce and develop reading and math skills in a 21st century world.

Social Awareness

Teacher: Rebecca Slate

This course is designed to provide students with multiple ways to interact with peers as well as develop fundamental skills for self-regulation. Students will engage in social interactions through games and role-playing. They will explore yoga and mindfulness techniques to utilize in their daily lives and in stressful situations. Students will also develop social skills in desired areas. For example, multiple students expressed the need to develop more confidence. We will explore ways that this can be achieved in a safe and inclusive environment.

Week 1

  • Introduction to course and peers
  • Games that require positive social interactions
  • Breath work and MindUp lesson 1- parts of the brain

Week 2

  • Introduction to the zones of regulation and its associated colors:
    • Blue (feeling down or tired)
    • Green (feeling ready to learn and interact positively)
    • Red (feeling angry/frustrated)
    • Yellow (feeling frustrated, scared, excited)
  • Identifying different facial expressions
  • Social scenario role play

Week 3

  • Introduction to yoga
  • Breath work for different situations
  • Yoga through games

Week 4

  • How the brain reacts to different social scenarios
  • Expectations for each zone
  • Moving from one zone to the next

Week 5

  • Yoga continued- focus on breathing
  • Yoga to facilitate friendship
  • Mindful moments (guided imagery meditation)

Week 6

  • What we learned as a group
  • Setting goals for the future
  • Wrap up with mindful minute exercises


Teacher: Kelly Mascaro                                                           

Music students will participate in a variety of music making activities including singing, moving, creating and performing on instruments. They will experience music as a means of communication and expression while learning some basic music literacy. Activities will often be related to the learning goals from other classrooms.

Week 2:

- Routines in the music classroom

 - Introduction of percussion instruments and techniques

 - Music games and songs for self-expression

Week 3:

 - Music from different cultures (both song and drumming)

 - Music games from different cultures

Week 4:

- Music and games from different cultures

- Creation of class songs and accompaniments using poetry

- Song lyrics and poetry

Week 5:

- Music composition games, rhythm reading

- Movement in music

Week 6:

- Individual compositions for self-expression

- Rehearse for musical presentation


Weekly Photos