If students are not reading at grade level by 3rd grade they will fall behind in their learning. It’s at that critical age when children transition from learning to read and start reading to learn. Jackson has a multi-generational issue of poverty, and education is the pathway out of poverty. The goal of Energizing Education is to ensure all Jackson County students are reading at grade level by the 4th grade. To make that target, Energizing Education uses In-School mentoring and Family Engagement.
In-School Mentors are volunteers who have one on one reading time with at risk youth. They visit with their student for a half hour, once or twice a week. Mentors go through specialized reading training, follow a strategic plan and are supported by a literacy specialist at the school. Mentors provide a fun learning experience every week for their students.
Family Engagement is an important part of Energizing Education’s process. It promotes involvement by parents and guardians so they can nurture literacy at home. Once a month Energizing Education host’s a family night where parents are given tools to assist with reading at home. The family nights are usually themed, are full of games and treats, and are an absolute blast for the kids.
In short, Energizing Education is working. Every child who is enrolled in the program is at risk of falling behind in school. By the end of last school year 76% of those students were at or above the reading level for their grade, and the other 24% are not far behind. The E.E. Pilot program began at Frost Elementary School in 2012, in just a few years it has expanded to six schools and will be in 8 schools next year.