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For the last eleven years, we at the Case Foundation have been a proud sponsor of City Year Washington, DC (CYDC). City Year is leading the way using service as a solution to national problems while uniting young people for a full-time year of service to improve schools and communities across the country.
This year, we are sponsoring the City Year Whole School, Whole Child team at Simon Elementary School. The Whole School, Whole Child program places a team of City Year volunteers (Corps Members) in a single school throughout the entire school year to support improvements in absenteeism, behavior and curriculum. Our team will work to make Simon a positive environment where children will achieve their academic potential, while participating in service projects to address the needs in their school and community.
Beginning with this blog post, each month corps members from the Case Foundation Simon Elementary team will share their experiences and provide updates from Simon. Below is the first update from CYDC Corp Member, Stephen Johnson.
Stephen is from Southfield, Michigan and a graduate of Oakland University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations. He volunteered at the Special Olympics and hopes his year at City Year can inspire students to have a greater understanding of the world around them. Stephen is also a competitive figure skater and instructor.
Through City Year's Whole School, Whole Child program, corps members work with students in kindergarten through 6th grade, providing small group academic support in math and reading. Additionally, we work to create positive behavior initiatives and after-school enrichment programs. We began our service at Simon Elementary School in Southeast Washington, DC in October, and since then our team has held two very successful events at our school.
The first event our team planned and executed was Spirit Week at Simon. We had a variety of themes for the spirit week including: Uniform Pride Day, Breast Cancer Awareness Day, Wacky Tacky Day, Hat Day, and Class Color Day. We also held a teacher appreciation breakfast and a school wide pep rally during the week. While Spirit Week concentrated on creating a positive school atmosphere for the students, our second event highlighted City Year’s reading interventions to parents and students.
The second event was Family Literacy Night, which was an event to simultaneously engage both Simon students and parents. The fun-filled night featured City Year corps members reading different genres of books to demonstrate to students that reading can be fun and to parents the importance of reading to your child. The different genres exhibited ranged from fantasy fiction, biography, mythology, and poetry. The books included those from the Harry Potter series, Green Eggs and Ham, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and Harriet Tubman.
With 40 families in attendance, I am happy to say that Family Literacy Night was a massive success and a huge first step in creating a culture of literacy at Simon Elementary School. Moving forward into 2011 our team is also planning a family math night as well as a spelling bee.
In City Year, we use the term “Starfish” to describe a student who has benefited from our work together. I would like to share with you my Starfish story from the past few months. One of my students, Amaya (name changed for privacy), struggled with reading at the beginning of the year. By working with her in small groups and in individual tutoring, she gradually became more confident with her reading ability. Her confidence paid off as she increased her test scores from Basic to Proficient on her most recent DC Public Schools standardized tests.
Be sure to check back soon for another addition of Simon Says and get an update on City Year in Simon Elementary School.