06/28/05 — Grant enhances education at Brogden, Dillard middle schools

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Grant enhances education at Brogden, Dillard middle schools

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 28, 2005 1:45 PM

Middle school students in Wayne County are being exposed to a variety of enrichment activities this summer in hopes of reinforcing skills taught during the regular school year.

A five-week camp program being held at Brogden and Dillard middle schools targets youths who might have struggled on the end-of-grade tests. But more than academics, the program also offers hands-on activities designed to promote leadership and character.

Through the 21st Century Learning Grant in conjunction with the 4-H, the summer institute focuses on math, science and reading, while exposing youths to a variety of activities that address the needs of the total child, said Dr. Ruby Bell, director of middle grades education for Wayne County Public Schools.

Wanda Bryant is director of the summer program, working with the school system and 4-H as well as other agencies. Partially mandated as part of the No Child Left Behind legislation, the subject-area lessons emphasize concepts in the state's standard course of study and prepare students for the end-of-course tests.

"It targets students who failed the end-of-grade tests at the middle school level, as a way to increase scores," she said.

Since the grant was awarded in January, she said the program has been well-received. An after-school program was offered during the school year, with the summer institute designed to build on that.

"The five-week program allows students to retain information they learned all year and move smoothly into the start of the school year," Ms. Bryant said.

The camp is held weekdays from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. through the end of July at Brogden and into August at Dillard. For the first two hours, students participate in alternating session of math, reading, and science. Teachers work with small groups, offering a pre-test at the outset to assess their skills and periodically giving tests to measure progress.

Ms. Bryant estimated 100 students are enrolled at the Dillard site, with participants from both Dillard and Goldsboro middle schools, and another 75 attend the Brogden program. During the school year, 350 students were served, she said.

Success is the goal and theme of the program, with high expectations for participants.

In Sheila Sawyer's reading class, students map out antonyms, synonyms and work on sharpening composition skills, while instructor Marcia Gail Thompson exposes her students to other cultures as a means of strengthening their reading skills.

Kiera Rowe, a rising seventh grader at Dillard, said she was excited to attend the program.

"We're trying to prepare for seventh grade," she said. "Since we've been at home, we've forgotten things."

Claudia Williams, site director at Dillard, said that while academics come first, there is also time for fun activities. Students can choose from arts and crafts, cooking, nutrition, physical fitness, and personal appearance. Like the 4-H program on which it is based, the classes teach life skills they can apply.

The supplemental skills are important in developing the whole child, she said.

Ms. Bryant said she feels the four-year grant will make a big difference in enhancing student education.

"I think it takes all programs," she said. "The more we can put together, the better it will be."