SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Over 9,000 Springfield Public Schools students are enrolled in the Summer Explore program, which is just shy SPS’ goal of 10.000 students.

Dana Hubbard, the director of student learning and summer experiences, says this is an opportunity for students to learn in an unconventional way.

“Hopefully kind of light a fire and find a passion that they might have,” says Hubbard.

The program is entering its eighth year. Each year, SPS has a different theme for the grades.

“For our 1st through 5th graders, this year is ‘Amazing Race,'” Hubbard said. “So, all of the curriculum is written around an ‘Amazing Race’ experience where kids travel throughout the continents and learn about different cultures and then we build in some really great experiences through that.”

Some of those experiences include going to the zoo, Fantastic Caverns and Wild Animals Safari. Partnerships with different entities, including 37 North Expeditions, will give students the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom.

Hubbard tells me SPS wants students to enjoy everything the program has to offer but also wants them to have enjoyed their summer off, even if it means missing a few days.

“Well, a lot of stuff happens in the summer. Kids are usually engaged in a lot of things. Maybe they go visit family members, they go on vacations, maybe they have camps they go to. And what we wanna make sure that parents understand is: do all of that and explore.”

SPS is even offering child care for parents.

“We do have child care providers for before and after school and in some of our locations where that was not possible through outside entities, we are actually creating opportunities, in-house, for that to happen for families who need that,” said Hubbard.

The first session began today, but parents have until June 15 to sign up for the second session, which begins in July.