Elizabeth City, N.C., reaches out to help young readers
By: Brad Rowland
There are several important developmental stages for any young person, from infancy to middle and high school. In Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the focus is on a specific age group, and a burgeoning program is in place with an eye toward addressing key needs.
The Little Readers Learning Academy began in November 2017 to help local third graders in their growth toward full-fledged literacy. The program, spearheaded by Captains Kenny and Julie Igleheart, corps officers, partners with Sheep-Harney Elementary School to bring as many as 20 young people to the local corps three times per week for supervised, targeted reading instruction.
Students are supervised by corps staff and three teachers who generously donate their time, after working a full day, to invest further in the lives of their students. Young people are provided with three 30-minute segments of instruction in specific areas of literacy development. The program is designed to lead children from the “yellow” stage of challenged literacy to the “green” stage, signifying a student is on track with local and national progress standards.
“I’m excited about it,” Captain Kenny Igleheart said. “It’s going to be an obvious winner for the kids. It’s a life-changing thing.”
The Salvation Army is covering most of the peripheral costs for the program, with students expected only to invest $5 per week in a program that also includes a daily snack. In addition, plans exist for potential development into other academic arenas including mathematics, though only when the initial need is fully met.
Ultimately, Captains Igleheart believe that links will grow between the literacy program and other corps programming and character-building classes, but the need for increased focus on literacy is evident in the community, and the Army is springing into action as a result.