By Luci Manning
Seven fifth graders at Israel Putnam School have created a beautiful mosaic illustrating their school year’s theme—around the world in 180 days—as part of an expanded afterschool enrichment program. Through the nine-week course, the kids learned to use grout, sponges and screws to put together the mosaic, which contains multicolored handprints that join to form the world. “The biggest benefit is kids working on things they wouldn’t work on during school otherwise,” Israel Putnam principal Anne Jellison told the Record-Journal.
A cohort of public officials, nonprofit groups and educational providers has unveiled a new initiative, “Summer 16: Dream! Explore! Do!” that hopes to engage thousands of Allegheny County kids in high-quality summer programs. The initiative will help providers throughout the county coordinate with one another, enabling the region to better gauge where programs are most needed. “We’re giving every child that wants an opportunity a chance to do something great this summer,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto told the Tribune-Review. The goal is for 16,000 children and young adults to participate in programs this summer.
After months of practicing their bike skills on pavement at the West End Center for Youth, eight students in the PedalUp afterschool program ventured into nature for their first mountain biking excursion. PedalUp, a part of Family Services of Roanoke Valley’s community counseling, uses bikes as a therapeutic tool to help kids develop and connect with one another, according to program founder Emily Painter. “It is very self-empowering; you are responsible for what you do on a bike,” she told the Roanoke Times. “I find that [the kids] look after each other in a big way, so it is done a lot to build their empathy.”
Western Kentucky University student Lillie Hoskinson recently developed a new program to better prepare tutors to help struggling young readers. According to the Daily News, Tutor in a Bag pairs students with volunteer “reading buddies,” who use tools like alphabet bingo puzzles, flash cards and games to improve the kids’ reading skills. The program targets students that show signs of reading weaknesses such as poor word recognition. Each volunteer completes a two-hour training session before participating in the afterschool program. “I think it’s a great tool for people who maybe want to provide assistance to struggling readers but don’t think they know how to do it,” WKU School of Teacher Education professor Nancy Hulan told the Daily News.