Program offers summer enrichment for Westside Community

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 27, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — The nearly 90 students participating in the Westside Community Foundation’s summer enrichment program have experienced STEM curriculum packed with adventure.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
The children have been to the Rowan County Airport where a flight instructor provided a lesson in aerodynamics.
They’ve traveled to the North Carolina Transportation Museum to learn about both early and modern trains.
And they’ve taken the Amtrak to the Greensboro Children’s Museum where they got to try their hand at being a meteorologist and learned the art of theater acting.
Throughout the summer, students have also attended storytelling at the Rowan Public Library and taken in movies at Salisbury’s Tinseltown theater.
The program, which focuses on academic achievement and character development, targets at-risk children in kindergarten through sixth grades.
“They can be at-risk academically, socially or economically,” Westside Director Donnie Jefferson said. “About 90 percent of our children come from Title I schools.”
Feeder schools include Overton, Hanford Dole, Isenberg and Koontz elementary as well as Knox Middle.
The program is a partnership with Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church, where it is held.
A different theme is chosen for each summer’s nine-week session.
“After thinking about what we could concentrate on this summer that would be most beneficial to the student, a math and science academy came to mind,” said coordinator Jean Lowery, a retired educator who taught math and science for 33 years.
The curriculum, drafted by Lowery, focuses on aerodynamics.
“We just want to make a difference,” Lowery said. “When they go back to school, we want them to be a little bit ahead.”
Lowery said Anne Ellis at Horizons Unlimited helped provide resources for the program.
“Our teachers with their creativity helped produce what you will witness today,” she said Friday.
During a program Friday, students from each grade level gave audience members a taste of what they’ve learned.
Mia Mason, 7, presented some fun facts about flying.
First-graders told the story of Guion Bluford, the first African-American astronaut in space.
And fifth-grade students talked about a number of STEM career possibilities .
“We introduced the students to careers in STEM so that they can get an early start preparing themselves for careers,” Lowery said. “Because high school is really too late.”
Jefferson said this summer’s program aims to get students thinking outside the box when it comes to job possibilities.
“We chose STEM because we know that’s where the jobs are in the future,” she said. “That’s where the world is going, so we don’t want our children to be limited to Salisbury.
“We want them to think globally, we want them to think that I can go to Japan, I can go to New York, I can go to California, I can go to Charlotte or I can go to Innes Street right here in Salisbury and I can do anything that I want to do.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.