BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As we inch closer to the school year many summer programs are coming to an end but one, in particular, is looking to continue the work they’ve done over the past few months, throughout the academic year.

Temple X Summer Program, a program through ACT Now Baltimore, takes a unique approach to teaching. Training trusted members of the community like neighbors and grandparents to be teachers.

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“What we know right now is there’s a teacher shortage,” said the Head of Schools with Temple X, Terris King II. “So you need people who just love children and to be able to equip them with what they need, obviously background checks and first aid training but other than that we taught them everything and it worked this summer.”

King said since these community liasons as they’re called, come from the neighborhoods they teach in. “They have a better understanding of what the kids need. You have to be of the culture, and connected to the culture to reach the people.”

Eight-year-old Bryce Epperson was one of the just over 70 students who attended the summer program which aims to provide a safe place for children, kindergarten through third grade, to learn and play.

“It was absolutely amazing,” said Epperson. “I loved every second of it.”

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Brigitte Dobyns, Bryce’s Grandmother, said “It’s an opportunity for him to relate with children his own age, and communicate with teachers, hands-on.”

Hands-on with activities like the culinary arts, digital designing and “sustainable learning engagements.”

With local churches serving as the classrooms, children are separated into small pods, making it safer for them to interact. It was a great experience for Bryce as he prepares to wrap up his summer.

“It’s just great, I don’t know how else to describe it,” said Bryce.

Temple X wants to continue this program throughout the year, expanding it from four churches to 30 which would let them serve upwards of 700 children.

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They estimate the cost to be upwards of $8 million for building renovations, training, buying technology as well as food for the kids throughout the school year.

Sean Streicher