By Michael Vernon Voss
NWS Yorktown Public Affairs Officer
YORKTOWN, Va. — More than 120 children attending the Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Child Development Center benefitted from the Summer Reading Program this year thanks to some forward thinking of a couple educators.
For the past two years the NWS Yorktown CDC Summer Reading Coordinator, Pamela Simmons, has worked with Valerie Fashion, the head librarian at the Groninger Library located at Fort Eustis, to allow Yorktown and Cheatham Annex children the opportunity to participate in the annual literacy program. This year, however, Simmons pursued a way to get more children involved.
According to studies published by the U.S. Department of Education, summer vacation is a long entrenched tradition for American schoolchildren and their families, but new research is showing that this practice may not be the best when it comes to helping kids get the most out of their educational experience. In fact, for some kids, a few months off in the summer can lead to major setbacks in school, including loss of knowledge and lowered test scores.
This is where initiatives like the DoD-MWR libraries’ Summer Reading Program come in. Through the Summer Reading Program, this year appropriately themed ‘Read - For the Win’, children who participate in the free program and complete reading activities get to collect rewards and at the end of the summer use rewards to purchase prizes.
This year Simmons and Fashion coordinated a solution that allowed the Summer Reading Program to incorporate not just more Yorktown children, but every child enrolled at the CDC.
In June, Fashion started loaning Simmons books that she would load into her car and drive the 20 minute trek from Fort Eustis to the NWS Yorktown CDC. Each week, Simmons along with the other CDC employees and parents would meet and spend an hour reading books to the kids.
“I remember the day I called Ms. Fashion and asked if we could look into bringing her and the books here versus us traveling to Fort Eustis,” said Simmons. “I thought, if we could get the resources here we could allow more of the classes to be involved in the program, and that’s when Ms. Fashion said, ’let’s do it.’”
Weekly, the Groninger Library, whose purpose, according to the website, is to provide effective, professionally supervised library services for clientele that includes active duty soldiers and their family members, retirees and their family members, National Guard, Reservists, civilians, contractors and college students attending college on Fort Eustis, Fashion would log each of the children’s time reading or being read books.
This routine continued from 27 June to 12 August where Fashion would bring requested books like, The Cat in the Hat, Little Fish Little Fish and Brown Bear Brown Bear and teacher, parents and children would gather around to enjoy the children’s classics.
Children like Tyler, a second-year Summer Reading Program participant, whose mom explained, “Tyler really enjoyed being able to read the different books and you could see his progress reading through the course of the summer,” she said.
To celebrate the readers’ achievement the NWS Yorktown CDC facility and staff, along with Ms. Fashion, and parents held a bitter/sweet end of the Summer Reading Program Celebration here, 26 August, but for Simmons and Fashion the relationship will continue.
“We hope to continue this program and venture into the future, because it is undeniable there are clear benefits to summer reading and we are just Reading-For the Win this year but every year,” said Simmons.
This year throughout the Hampton Roads area more than 16,000 participants read more than 203,000 books as part of the 2016 Summer Reading Program.