Service Spotlight: Reading & Recreation Program

Overland students often say that their favorite part of the New England Service program is the Reading & Recreation Summer Program at the Williamstown Elementary School. Every morning for two weeks, Overland students serve as mentors and reading tutors for local six to eight year-olds.  The program’s goal is to enhance reading skills and boost self-confidence while having fun in a supportive setting. A 2011 Overland student, Lindsay Buff wrote, “I loved facilitating the reading and games with our reading buddies.”

During the Reading & Recreation Summer Program, Carolyn Agostini, Title 1 Coordinator at Williamstown Elementary School, and Lisa Shannon, Fourth Grade teacher at Williamstown Elementary School, provide direct discrete engaging reading instruction, and the R&R students practice those skills with the guidance from an Overland reading tutor. Before the camp begins, the tutors meet with Carolyn and Lisa to review the schedule, goals, expectations and general background about reading instruction. Carolyn meets with each tutor individually in order to relay useful information about the learning needs of the child whom he or she will tutor.

The R&R Summer Program takes thirteen students for each session. Twelve Overland students and one of the Overland leaders serve as tutors. From 9:00 am-9:15 am, students arrive and do quiet activities with their tutors. From 9:15 am-9:45 am, Carolyn and Lisa provide the skill lesson. The tutors learn the nitty-gritty about the day’s reading skills instruction at the morning skill lesson along with the students. From 9:45 am-10:15 am, R&R students do drills and read aloud to their tutors. At 10:15 am, everyone breaks for snack outside in the gazebo. The recreation is just as important as the reading instruction. Overland leaders and students run outdoor games and crafts from 10:30 am-11:30 am every day. Camp ends with a half hour of tutors reading to their reading buddies; from 11:30 am-12:00 pm, the pairs are spread out on the elementary school grounds in the shade of the trees.

Carolyn hears from tutors and students from long ago who are still in touch with each other. She explained, “Realistically, reading doesn’t change over night, but attitude and confidence toward learning can change during the two weeks of the program.  We have heard from a few parents who swear that the camp was the spark that unlocked reading skills. The kids make new friends and love camp.” At the end of two weeks, Carolyn and Lisa see happy, confident kids; their goals are realized. New England Service students are positive academic and social role models for the Reading & Recreation students.

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