The Yellowhammer Learning Program, the academic extension of Sawyerville Day Camp, is underway! The YLP works towards the same goals as the day camp: to love God, broaden the horizons of participants and staff, and improve race relations in Alabama. While the day camp accomplishes these goals through Bible lessons and group activities, the Yellowhammer Learning Program accomplishes these goals through academic instruction, character building lessons, and a very small teacher to student ratio. Both programs aim to help the campers and students grow up to be happy, healthy, and successful in whatever they do.
We’re half-way through the first week of the learning program, and we’re looking forward to the next four weeks! While many traditions remain from the first three years of YLP, this summer we have some amazing new opportunities for our students!
Location, Location, Location
This summer, the Yellowhammer Learning Program is held at Greensboro Elementary School. That means we’re on the same campus as Sawyerville Day Camp which solves all kinds of logistical hiccups. The YLP has its own building, affectionately known as “The Nest”, and it has been transformed into an engaging and inspirational learning environment.
Third Grade Rock Stars
In years past, the YLP taught rising fifth- and sixth-graders. This year, we’ve shifted to serving rising third-grade students, because studies show that reading on grade level by third grade is crucially important. Up to third grade, students learn to read. After third grade, students read to learn. If students aren’t reading proficiently by the time they reach fourth grade, they are much more likely to get left behind and even drop out of school. Because we love the children in this community, we want to give them a boost at this pivotal moment in their education, a boost that could set them up for success for the rest of their lives. Next summer we’ll welcome back this same group of students as rising fourth-graders and bring in a new cohort of rising third-graders. That way, we’ll support students on either side of this important grade.
In addition to teaching reading, math, science, and chess, we’ve also added a class called “Maker Space.” In this class, students take on engineering challenges like creating a maze for a marble, constructing the tallest Lego tower possible, or perfecting an origami bird. Tinkering with these projects gives students the opportunity to self-direct their own learning through trial and error and to work as a team to accomplish a common goal.
Just Keep Swimming
Learning is not just for the classroom this year! On Mondays and Wednesdays, we travel to Judson College in Marion, AL and teach the students to swim. The YLP interns have been certified as lifeguards and trained to give swimming lessons. With this addition, our students are encouraged to learn in a broader sense, as we reach outside the classroom and expand the mindset and horizons of our third graders.
Although Parent Night has always been an awesome tradition for the YLP, we have changed locations this summer. Parent Night now takes place at the new Martin Stewart Community Center on the corner North and Whalen Street, next to Puddle Jumper Preschool. This open space, sponsored and created by HERO Housing is designed to share meals, hold larger groups, and bring the YLP community together. This year’s Parent Night programs will include financial literacy, reading as a family, and healthy cooking. Thank you to everyone who has or will provide dinner or teach a program! Special thanks to Beth Wilder for coordinating these events!
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