By Audrey Gurkin
Boone, N.C. — The Summer Literacy Program was administered by the Boone United Methodist Church and supported by a grant from the Duke Endowment. This three-year grant is aimed at minimizing the literacy gap of students who, by the end of their Kindergarten year, have not mastered necessary reading accuracy, foundation skills (e.g., phonemic awareness, letter-sound relationships), writing skills and comprehension.
According to student leader/teacher, Karalee Cole, Clinical Educator in the Beaver College of Health Sciences Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) at Appalachian State University, “This opportunity provided expanded clinical experiences for our students, linking oral language practice with written language (reading and writing) for early literacy learners. In addition to the visible community outreach resulting from the Summer Literacy Program, our CSD graduate students worked with a student from the Department of Nutrition and Health Care Management for an inter-professional experience (IPE) to provide language and literacy lessons centered around nutritional snacks. This program also offered real-life experience as well as yielding 100 nutrition hours and 80 client-contact hours for the CSD students. The students were such an inspiration — I'm looking forward to next year!”
Pictured left to right: Maggie McCabe, Allie Davis, Karalee Cole, Natalie Railey, Lauren Culver, Shallelica Mean. Photo submitted.
This six-week program is a full day with balanced literacy in the morning and enrichment activities in the afternoon. The CSD students worked with the student from the Nutrition and Foods program to design snacks and language/literacy lessons that aligned with the program’s principles three afternoons a week. As the participants followed the recipe to make the snack, they also completed language and literacy activities by increasing vocabulary knowledge, print concepts and practicing reading and writing skills.
The program was governed by the following six principles:
Thriving and Engaged Church Community
Strong Community Investment
Empowered and Effective Teachers
Data-informed and Student-focused Instruction
Undergirding all of these principles is a focus on evidence and evidence-building. The Endowment recognizes that there is no tested model in the scientific literature for summer literacy programs hosted in rural churches and seeks to fill that void by developing a model that can be evaluated for effectiveness. Therefore, the administrators and teachers place a high emphasis on program fidelity, standardized assessment and, if possible, the creation of a student waitlist to serve as a control/comparison group.