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CCE concludes successful reading program with Windham Public Schools

Published on April 04, 2022

CCE concludes successful reading program with Windham Public Schools

Reading Program

Eastern Connecticut State University’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE) recently completed a year-long reading program with more than 135 children in Windham Public Schools. Based on a curriculum designed by Sociology Professor Nicolas Simon, 80 volunteers from Eastern volunteered 875 hours and brought books and activities each week to the afterschool programs at the Barrows STEM Academy, Natchaug School, North Windham School, Sweeney Elementary School, Windham Center School and the Village Heights Community Center.

The curriculum helped children build understanding and excitement about community engagement and encouraged involvement in their own communities. At the end of the program, the books were donated to the afterschool programs to enhance their own libraries and to give to children to take home.

“The implementation of the reading program was exceptional,” said Simon. “Eastern students were trained and supported by the CCE and planted important seeds in the Windham community. Elementary school students were able to see our talented volunteers each week and use the stories to think of actions they can take to transform their community.”

One of the CCE student leaders, Yamileth Jarquin Yescas ’22, said, “It has been refreshing to see a diverse and important selection of books offered for the children to read. They can connect and see themselves in the characters they read about while also learning about their community.

"Last week we read ‘Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen,’ and our students learned that they had a soup kitchen in their own community. To see a book mirror their community excited them. I have witnessed the younger kids continuously push themselves to read books that contain harder words. By the end, they were clearly proud of themselves. Many of the students have often expressed that reading is the area they struggle with the most and programs such as this one are crucial to students.”

“The (after-school program) coordinators all mentioned how great it has been having the (Eastern) volunteers at our sites conducting this reading program,” said Desiree Parciak, the family and community engagement program coordinator for Windham Public Schools.

“Every day, we require our students to read while also reading on the CCE reading program days. The students enjoy every second of it and eagerly await the following week to do it again. You can visibly see the students look forward to reading. The coordinators liked how they brought several copies of the book to read in small groups; this helped control minor behaviors and kept students engaged. Students enjoyed reading on these days because they knew a fun activity would follow. The students always went home excited to show their parents what they made that day during program.”

This program was funded by generous grants from the Liberty Bank Foundation and Windham Public Schools.

Written by Kim Silcox