Senior Corps Members, Megan Klok and Mary McManus, are serving their second years with City Year NH and serve as Literacy Coordinators for the first year AmeriCorps members. We sat down with the two of them to discuss literacy initiatives, goals, and general insight.
What is the importance of Literacy?
Megan Klok: I think literacy is important because it is a way to spread ideas and to communicate with others. In every aspect of life, it is important to be able to interact with others in both verbal and written language and getting students to understand the power of literacy early will open doors for them.
Mary McManus: It's also another way for students and people to look at the world in such interesting ways. You can read about so many different cultures and lives and you can even write your own story as a way of sharing yourself. All of those possibilities start with the very basics of literacy and that's what we're here to help provide.
Why does City Year focus on Literacy?
MK: In Manchester, City Year New Hampshire works in 8 of the Title 1 schools in grades 3-5. In many of these schools, the teachers are working tirelessly to reach kids that are more than a few grade levels behind while simultaneously trying to push those that are at or above grade level. That is where City Year comes in. Each of the 70 City Year AmeriCorps members has 6 students on their English/language arts focus list. Through this focus list we provide extra support to help reinforce concepts introduced in class and individualize lesson plans to help appeal to our students interests and grade level. Many corps members come up with creative ways to bridge the gap for students that have not been bitten by the literacy bug. Over the course of the year, we work with the students for at least 900 minutes each and while not every student reaches grade level, students learn that someone is invested in their education. We seek to teach a love of reading and learning.
What are the different ways you build that love of learning?
MM: As literacy points we work with a first year AmeriCorps member representative from each of the 8 schools we serve in to help facilitate literacy initiatives. Each school has a parent engagement night centered on literacy where all teams create stations/games to get students excited about reading, writing, etc. We also have a writing initiative at each of our schools called Write On! Every month, students in grades 3-5 are given a prompt and they can turn in a piece of their writing. Winners are picked from each grade and at the end of the year their writing is compiled into a Write On! Book with winners from all of the 8 schools across the city. Every student that wins gets a book to take home at the end of the year and they can tell everyone that they're a published author! The kids get really into it.
What are you looking forward to as the Service Leader Literacy Points?
MK: I'm really excited to help guide corps members through event planning and literacy night execution. I have a lot of experience with planning these types of events and am excited to help corps members see their visions come to fruition.
MM: I'm really excited about the Write On! Initiative and giving students the avenue for creativity and story telling. And I think Megan and I are both excited to use our experiences from last year to help this year's AmeriCorps members have a successful year for their own personal learning and the benefit of the Manchester students.