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Reading is fun, and Partners in Learning proves it

Making reading fun

Corey Ellis, Matthew Kinai, Kayla Graham and Keyan Burleson worked to memorize sight words at Partners in Learning's Literacy Carnival to help with their vocabulary asbeginning readers. David Freeze

Corey Ellis, Matthew Kinai, Kayla Graham and Keyan Burleson worked to memorize sight words at Partners in Learning’s Literacy Carnival to help with their vocabulary asbeginning readers. David Freeze

When Samantha Brown applied for a national contest with Scholastic Books called the Scholastic Project Summer Contest, she thought that she had no chance of winning. After all, only three winners would be chosen in the United States.

“I had to answer a tough question about what I would do for literacy, and thought I wouldn’t hear from them,” said Brown, a teacher at Partners in Learning in Salisbury.

So when the call came in early June that Brown and Partners in Learning were in fact one of the three winners, she couldn’t believe it. Scholastic was sending 75 book packs that each included 5 books and tools intended to prevent the summer slide. These books were provided to all of the summer camp students, and the fun began.

“The focus on education, literacy and creative play is what differentiates us from other programs. Our team worked extensively to prevent the literacy summer slide which happens to so many students,” said School Age Coordinator Shaina Freeze.

Partners in Learning staff set a goal of 20,000 cumulative reading minutes for the summer. Minutes were logged electronically through the Scholastic Summer Challenge website. Each individual student had an individual account and log in. The birth to pre-K classes all logged in as a class. “Our teachers were very supportive. We even involved the infant classes. Early literacy is most important, and some research says that reading to a baby still in the womb helps in developing the positive habit,” said Brown.

Parents were not left out, as Partners in Learning scheduled Parent Literacy Night.

“Our parents had to feel five items in a bag and write about them in an interactive setting,” Brown added.

The summer program focused heavily on reading and literacy efforts, and as a culmination of winning the national grant and the children’s hard work and determination, Partners in Learning held a Literacy Carnival on Monday afternoon at the school. Contests with titles based on children’s books included the Chicka Chicka Boom Coconut Toss, Very Hungry Caterpillar Darts, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bean Bag Toss and Sight Word Pond.

The parents were impressed with the efforts of their children throughout the summer to log their reading minutes. Ashley Wilson of Salisbury, mother of Partners in Learning students Lavierah and Shyann Walker, said, “Even I have become a better reader. Reading every night has inspired my daughters, and we always talked about what they read to measure their comprehension. We all had more interest because of the program. Good readers get good grades. Thank you to PIL for having this summer literacy program.”

Dorothy Jane Kozlowski, single mother of nine children from Davidson County, was happy that two of her daughters were included in the program.

“Both 12-year-old Susanna and 9-year-old Gloria Jane were so excited to log their reading minutes,” she said. “The summer camp at Partners is fantastic. The activities keep the kids productive, active and engaged. My kids are so excited at night to tell me about what they did during the day.”

Echoing the other parents, Amber Cooler said, “Ella has been a reader, but she plays Little League all summer. She found ways to read more because of the contest. The PIL staff is so loving and informative, and they take time to explain new things to the kids. Their focus on education leads to an understanding and knowledge that will help the kids keep that focus when they return to school. I had to read some of the books that Ella was reading, just so I could discuss them with her.”

Overall winners for most minutes read included first-place winner 9-year-old Mya Edwards, who read 1,779 minutes. Ella Cooler, an 8-year-old, captured second place with 1,616 minutes read, and 9-year-old Corey Ellis took third place with 1,144 minutes. Fourth place went to 6-year-old Michael Brown, with 1,075 minutes of reading. All winners received a trophy and a Sweet Frog gift certificate.

Class winners were the first-place 8-11 year old Lions with 9,625 minutes read, followed in second place by the 6-7 year old Panthers, who totaled 3,640 minutes read. The 1-2 year old Ducks had 2,530 minutes read to grab third place.

Total minutes read for all students at Partners in Learning were 24,514 over the 10 week period.

Other students will benefit from the reading program, because all the games at the Partners in Learning Literacy Carnival benefit the Community Based Rehabilitative Services. Those proceeds will help provide literacy opportunities for homebound special needs children.

Executive Director Norma Honeycutt summed up the summer reading product with, “Literacy is so important for all ages of children. We focus here on early literacy year round. Summer provides the opportunity to ensure that children not only retain what they learn during the regular school year, but make additional gains in reading skills.”

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