“Get Delaware Reading” campaign named national “Bright Spot”
WILMINGTON – The national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR) has announced that United Way of Delaware’s (UWDE) “Get Delaware Reading” campaigns in New Castle, Kent, and Sussex counties have each been named national “2021 Bright Spot” communities for innovative responses to the instructional challenges posed by the COVID crisis.
The CGLR “Bright Spot” recognition highlights 54 communities across the United States that implemented innovative responses to the COVID crisis, including new or adaptive roles, programs, organizational relationships and collaborations, policies and/or resources. In particular, the CGLR recognizes communities for crafting solutions that are especially effective, replication-worthy, and/or deserving of being sustained during the post-COVID period.
Recognizing the seriousness of learning loss during the pandemic, especially for students of color, the Get Delaware Reading campaign:
- Collaborated with Stubbs Early Education Center to provide students with education/literacy packets;
- By the end of the current school year, will have provided more than 70,000 books to students in 14 schools in seven school districts, through the My Very Own Library program;
- Collaborated with the Delaware Department of Education to provide 6,000 literacy kits which include school supplies and grade-level literacy materials;
- Launched the Virtual Reading Angels program in which volunteers videotape themselves reading a book and posting those videos online for children to watch and/or to read along;
- Launching a pilot program with Nemours BrightStart and Reading Assist to provide professional development and intense literacy instruction to teachers to work with students throughout the summer months.
As well, when Delaware public schools closed last March, UWDE quickly raised funds to help establish or maintain 27 educational learning pods in some of Delaware’s most underserved communities. Working in partnership with 21 community-based organizations, the Longwood Foundation, the City of Wilmington, numerous corporate and individual donors, and Delaware’s school districts, the pods facilitated access to the internet and computers while ensuring continuation of meals and consistent adult coaching and supervision. These professionally staffed, safety-compliant learning pods now help keep more than 750 Delaware students from falling behind. Each learning pod works in collaboration with local school districts to ensure students are engaged with the standard curriculum.
Commenting on the Bright Spot recognition, Michelle A. Taylor, President and CEO of United Way of Delaware said in a statement, “Ensuring that all Delaware children, especially children of color, are reading on grade-level by third grade is a UWDE strategic priority. COVID presented significant challenges, but through collaborative efforts with community-based partners in New Castle, Kent, and Sussex counties, we now offer children and their families the tools they need to succeed. We appreciate this national recognition as a Bright Spot community. We look forward to sharing our experiences and to learning from other Bright Spot communities about navigating the challenges of COVID-19.”
- From New Castle County, Erin Hutt, Network Connect Director, said of learning pods, “UWDE has provided us with a platform to connect with district leaders on a weekly basis to provide updates on academics, initiatives and resources. Learning pods have helped students across the city of Wilmington re-engage in the education space during the pandemic. Over the last five months we’ve seen tremendous academic and emotional growth in students. Re-connecting students with their peers in a safe space has allowed us to prepare students to transition back to school in the fall.”
- Bartley Dryden, Principal of MacLary Elementary School in Newark said, “My Very Own Library provides a way to support home-to-school connections while building a community of readers that reinforces our school mantra: MacLary Elementary, Where readers are leaders!”
- From Kent County, Adam Kramer, State Director for the Green Beret Project shared the impact learning pods are having on his students. “When they started their learning pod in December, every kid that was taking Zoom classes was failing. Now they are 100% passing.” He told of a star basketball player who was sidelined because of failing grades; upon attending the learning pod, the student received help accessing his remote classes, improved his class participation, received tutoring, and went from a 4% grade to a 96% grade in his math class.
- Lauren Cusick, Instructional Coach at Kent County’s Fairview Elementary School said, “My Very Own Library has had such a positive impact on the students at Fairview Elementary. Our students come from diverse backgrounds and many had limited access to books at home. Partnering with MVOL has been a lifesaver for our students because they have been given the opportunity to build their home libraries with books of their choice. We have also had an increase in family engagement participation which has resulted in a stronger school community.”
- From Sussex County, Karen Man, First State Community Action Council explained, “With the team efforts of United Way and First State Community Action Agency, we’ve planted seeds of inspiration, imagination, and social interaction in children who were beginning to lose hope. This is a “TEAM” effort, which stands for Together Everyone Achieves More. This is our daily motto, which we strive to perfect.”
- Corey Dietrich, Assistant Principal at North Georgetown Elementary said, “My Very Own Library has given students access to resources that our school library could not provide and has been a school-wide initiative that has helped unite our hybrid and remote students.”