Today: May 22, 2024

Southern hosts brand new summer camp for local kids

photo courtesy
Southern interim President Stanley F. Battle, left, with a Southern Academy student and Dr. Reginald Mayo,right

REBECCA BAINER — General Assignment Reporter
Over the summer 25 students from the New Haven public school system took part in the Southern Academy, a six-week summer camp program focused on reading and literacy.
The students came from several schools in the area. These included Beecher, King/Robinson Magnet and Lincoln-Basset. Brown said the goal is to follow the students until they graduate
high school in an attempt to promote college enrollment and help close the achievement gap.
“It takes a community to build up a child, so if you’re looking at a community as a whole you have the college, high school, middle school, businesses and everybody taking their own part to make sure
that one child is successful,” said Marvis Brown, director of Connecticut Collegiate Awareness and Preparation program. “What are we doing to reach out to make sure those students coming up
will have the tools to succeed in a college setting?”
Brown—the co-coordinator of the academy— said Nancy Boyles, Southern’s Associate Professor of Special Education and Reading, helped with reading strategies. Her graduate
students also helped as reading teachers, working alongside literacy coaches and counselors.
“We had a group of 25 students and they were broken down to five,” said Brown. “There was a small ratio of students to a teacher.”
Although the Academy is a pilot program that was just started this summer, Brown said the plan is to continue throughout the school year.
“We’re going to have tutors go to the schools and be inside the classroom, and one Saturday each month they’ll come to Southern and we’ll have a program lined up for them to do here,” said Brown.
Over the summer, Brown said students started their days with breakfast, then went into their classrooms for a morning section of academics. Later they would have lunch and continue
the day with extracurricular activities, such as arts and drama. Friday was a recreation day where students would go to movies, roller skate or participate in other fun activities.
“It’s interesting,” said Brown. “It’s one way to get parents, students and teachers on board helping out as much as they can to make sure a student is successful.”
James Barber, Director of Student Supportive Services at Southern and co-coordinator of the Academy said the participating third graders are the youngest the Southern community has
worked with.
“We’ve been involved in early intervention programs with the community,” said Barber. “This is the youngest. We have worked with fifth through eighth [graders] before.”
Barber said there is a positive impact of working with children at a younger grade level.
“There’s no question about it,” said Barber, “with all the research that you can get your hands on, it says the earlier you can get started with youngsters the better off they’re going to be.”
Barber said it was Stanley Battle, Southern’s Interim President, who wanted to impact the educational process at an earlier age and keep young students active during the summer. The vision is
to add on at least 25 new children per year until the academy reaches about 200 participants.
“There are very few one-child families in this area,” said Barber. “So, when you’re working with one child in a family you’re going to impact all the other children around them. If these children
are excited about learning, then others around them will get excited with learning.”
Barber said that to this point, the children have seemed excited about learning.
“Our attendance rate for the summer was about 99 percent,” said Barber. “For third graders to come here every day from 8 to 3 with no behavioral problems, we’re doing the right
Barber said any students interested in becoming involved could contact him or Marvis Brown as there are many opportunities to get involved with children in the community.
“The sky is the limit,” said Barber. “I hope to see children get so excited about learning that they can’t keep their hands off the books and that they actually force us to move at a much faster
pace than we had planned on.”

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