Family Literacy Night: Food, Fun and Fellowship in The Neighborhood

Written by Tami Barlow

On June 7, 2016

On May 19th, Charleston Promise Neighborhood hosted a Family Literacy Night at Mary Ford Elementary. This 21st Century Learning Community Event was a collaboration between Charleston Promise Neighborhood and Reading Partners. Over 150 residents attended to learn about summer reading loss prevention, Extending Learning Time programs, and financial literacy (thanks to our friends from BB&T). It was a fantastic way to end the school year!

The evening began with presentations from Reading Partners. They generously provided summer reading backpacks with supplemental materials inside. The bags were catered to each child based on grade level; each one containing on-level books and an additional challenging one. Reading coaches from the school taught classrooms full of parents how to use the supplies inside the bags. They also explained an exciting summer challenge for the students that, if completed, will result in a special prize at the beginning of the school year.

After the briefing on summer reading, parents and students went to the cafeteria to see demonstrations from all Extended Learning Time enrichment programs. Extending Learning Time is a Charleston Promise Neighborhood initiative in all four of our schools that gives children the opportunity to discover their passions through extra-curricular activities at no cost to their families. We have bi-annual Show What You Know (SWYK) presentations at each school to showcase these newfound talents and interests, and combining Mary Ford’s SWYK with Family Literacy Night proved to be a successful collaboration.

There were nine Extending Learning Time partners that presented, and our friends from BB&T had the banking bus parked outside. A Smart Move had a physical fitness station set up outside to demonstrate the benefits of staying active. Research shows that students who get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day make better grades, so programs like this are dually important to implement in our schools. Bricks 4 Kids had a table to show parents why it is important to implement kinesthetic science and engineering lessons into fun activities like LEGOS and robotics building. Corpus Collosum teaches the spirit of entrepreneurship, and their group sold delicious milkshakes. DanceED put on ballet and tap performances that had the audience dancing in their seats, and R3 recited their mantra for the entire crowd about being confident, goal-oriented, and determined. Palmeto Brush Art not only displayed works from throughout the semester, but also had each visitor to their table paint a square on a canvas. The end result was absolutely beautiful! The Sweetgrass Basket table had displays of beautiful craftsmanship in truly stunning and impressive baskets and flowers. Capoeria Charleston finished out the SWYK portion of the evening by performing the Brazilian-inspired dancing duels, complete with flips, kicks, and handstands!

The BB&T Banking bus was set up outside to help students and their families learn about goal setting, the importance of saving, and financial literacy. They also offered free credit checks to our residents. We loved having BB&T be part of this special evening!

As the students were handed their bags for the summer from Reading Partners and CPN, Jim ‘N’ Nicks handed out 150 delicious boxed dinners to our residents. Everyone left with full book bags, full bellies, and full of joy as the evening was a wonderful time of learning, performing, and fellowshipping in The Neighborhood!