Making an educational difference
Your Aug. 13 article about high school freshman who are reading at the 4th grade level or below was sobering. Literacy has been named as the No. 1 priority for Charleston County Schools and rightly so.
These education professionals are acutely aware of the statistics that illumine how the lack of reading skills leads directly to increased school drop-out rates, to unemployment, to a life of crime and substance abuse and poverty.
All the while, administrators readily admit that a lack of resources is their greatest challenge. It’s time we all show our support and see how we can help.
The East Cooper area can serve as a model for others. I-BEAM is a mentoring and reading program that is being shepherded with 100 percent volunteers by the East Cooper Ecumenical Network (ECEN is a cooperative of more than 20 churches in East Cooper) in conjunction with East Cooper Community Outreach (ECCO).
It began in 2010 as a pilot at Jennie Moore Elementary with support from Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church.
With the spirited leadership of the school’s principal, Karen Felder, it exceeded all expectations.
Success seemed inevitable with the talent and commitment of the school’s outstanding faculty, and of the volunteers, men and women of all ages and vocations. Charleston County schools honored I-BEAM last year as one of their “difference-makers.”
As we prepare to kick off our 2012 school year, I-BEAM will be reaching across five elementary schools East of the Cooper with 350 volunteer mentors. Students in grades 2 through 5 are the focus with a simple one-hour a week of reading and mentoring.
The elementary grades have been studied and are concluded to be the point of influence that can affect reading, learning and the resulting life pathways. Academic and social performances are being tracked, and the results are nothing short of amazing.
With such success, I-BEAM should be replicated across our river’s borders. There are numerous initiatives like this across the country, and they consistently demonstrate a powerful and positive impact.
If you would like more information regarding I-BEAM, please visit the website at http://www.mppc.net/644465.ihtml or call ECEN at 843-270-1284.
In days that often can seem overcast with societal challenges, we have found a light in I-BEAM that is intimate enough for two, and powerful enough for an entire community.
Thank you again for your article, and a huge gratitude to the faculty, administrators, students, parents and community leaders who are helping to shape a better future.
Hobcaw Bluff Drive