Summer literacy program sets SAIL

  • Friday, June 13, 2014

Taylor Griffith/South Strand News Maggie Hapeshis helps two students with a reading project. Science and technology are heavily emphasized in the SAILing curriculum.

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Sampit community students will have an opportunity to continue learning this summer through participation in a new literacy- and science-based program.

The science and inquiry learning (SAIL) course, SAILing into Summer, will help 40 Sampit Elementary School students – rising kindergarteners through third graders – expand their literacy skills through a focus on science.

The program is the brainchild of the Georgetown County United Way, with Early Childhood Learning Coordinator Yolanda McCray at the helm.

The United Way worked closely with Georgetown County School District to develop the pilot program.

“One of our focus areas is education, especially early education,” said Paul Gardner, United Way board chairman.

He said the United Way pays specific attention to education of children up to nine years old because “we feel that makes the most impact.”

The school district determined a need for academic programming during the summer months based on the results from measures of academic progress (MAP) tests.

McCray said that “pointed [her] in the right direction,” and she began working with a group of county educators on their dream summer program curriculum.

Several months of planning later, all it took was cooperation from Sampit Elementary Principal Sabrina Goff-Mack, transportation provided by the school district and funding from International paper to make the dream a reality.

Goff-Mack spoke of SAILing as a program “for what I see as this summer and many years to come.”

The principal said students were selected to participate using “classroom data,” but parents also had to agree to attend three parenting workshops as an admittance criteria. The six-week program began June 9 and will be split into two three-week sessions, the first with a focus on weather and the second on matter.

Most of the program will focus on reading skills through science-related material, but technology and writing will also be a minor focus, McCray said.

She said soft skills, such as listening and teamwork, are also integrated in to the curriculum.

Sampit teachers are instructing the classes of 10 students, an advantage the organizers said will help the students when they return in the fall and work with their SAILing teachers again.

The program is free to participants, thanks to the financial support of the United Way and International Paper.

According to Kim Clewis, communications manager for the International Paper Georgetown mill, the company has partnered with the United Way for two years to put on a golf tournament, the proceeds from which benefit the United Way and programs such as SAILing. “Literacy is a key focus for giving for International Paper,” she said.

The school district has provided the program participants transportation.

SUperintendent of Schools Dr. Randy Dozier, this is one of many summer learning programs the school district supports, including a new gifted and talented camp that launched this summer, in addition to athletic camps. He said many of the camps are available at little or no cost the families.

“If you can’t find a camp you’re not looking very hard,” he said with a laugh.

Of all the programs, Goff-Mack said of the she is thrilled Sampit had the opportunity to host SAILing.

“This summer our students will continue to make academic growth. We’re happy, excited, and our students are excited.”

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