Elementary school sponsors summer literacy program
Published 9:39 am Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Dr. Allison Francis, principal of Capron Elementary School, first floated ideas for the “Wednesdays with a Book!” summer reading program in November.
“I noticed a pattern with the PALS scores,” she said of the tests that are administered to kindergarten, first and second grade students to gauge their reading abilities.
“The students were reading on a certain grade level in the spring, but when the PALS were administered in the fall, 90 percent of the students went back a grade level.”
When Francis brought up this unsettling trend in the November principals’ meeting, Dr. Alvera Parrish, superintendent of Southampton County Public Schools, encouraged her to think out of the box to combat this problem.
“I said, ‘We need to take the books to them [in the summer],’” Francis said.
After that initial suggestion, members of the administration office began to offer their support to help create a summer literacy program benefiting the children living in the Sykes Drive Trailer Court.
Every Wednesday in July, from 10 to 11 a.m., Francis and other volunteers — including Mary Futrell and Morgan Bailey, both teachers at Capron Elementary — bring a carload of books at various grade levels, snacks and drinks to the trailer court west of Drewryville.
“As a mother and a teacher, I feel that encouraging children to read is so important. I am happy to share my time to help Dr. Francis with this program,” said Futrell.
Lorraine Greene Whitehead, Title I specialist, provides the books, and Bill Hatch, the public school’s technology specialist, provides iPads and Internet access so that students could take AR Tests on the books they read.
“We wanted to reach the children who do not have transportation to go to the library programs and who don’t have a lot of books so that we could keep them reading over the summer,” Francis said. “We wanted them to know that we care enough to come to them and to keep them reading during the summer.”
In addition to the books brought on site each week, participating students are offered a free book to keep each week, and are permitted to check out books that they must bring back the following week.
“I love the one-on-one opportunity to work with children without distractions,” said Bailey. “I hope that reading with these children shows them just how important reading is and just how much we care about their success. If I can help just one child be excited and successful in reading this summer, then I have met my goal.”