Washington, D.C. — ACOC’s literacy-focused after school program, Vo-Camp-Ulary (Vo-Camp), is up and running, and already showing early successes and outcomes! The program, funded by the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation, seeks to help 3rd through 6th grade students who attend underperforming schools improve their reading skills and overall vocabulary development through teacher-led instruction, small group lessons, and one-on-one tutoring. According to the Annie E Casey Foundation’s 2014 Kids Count Report, nearly 77% of 4th grade students are below proficient in reading. This is an alarming statistic, as a child’s ability to read by 4th grade is shown to have a direct correlation to their future academic success. Dr. Bevadine Terrell, Program Manager, has worked with ACOC’s Summer Camp for the past three years, and is now leading Vo-Camp. “My mission in life has always been to work with young people. The Vo-Camp Program has given me another opportunity to support ACOC’S education initiative for children”, she said.
The majority of the students enrolled in the Vo-Camp Program read below grade level, with weaker than average reading, comprehension, vocabulary and writing skills. Students also have issues with consistency, and struggle with regularly attending school, receiving and doing homework, maintaining a sense of routine, and practicing good study habits. This has been a challenge for Dr. Terrell and Vo-Camp instructor Laureen Smith-Butler, who combined, bring over 75 years of experience working with DC Public School students. However, through the hard work of the students and staff, early successes are being identified.
Students are now beginning to show signs of routine, consistency, improved study habits and a feeling of accomplishment. Several students have indicated that they have better comprehension of subject material in their classes, with their grades showing commensurate improvement. On many days, students request additional time to receive help, and end up staying much later then the program’s 6pm stop time to get extra support. Our students are hard-working, and have an attendance rate between 97-100% daily. ACOC was also fortunate to establish a strategic partnership with Books for America, a local organization that selectively partners with nonprofit organizations to donate books and learning materials. This partnership has already netted over 260 donated books, all of which are available to our Vo-Camp students in our efforts to raise their reading levels and increase their vocabularies.
While the Vo-Camp Program has seen early successes and made positive impacts on students’ overall academic achievement, much more work must be done to bring them up to grade level in reading and to continue to foster their vocabulary growth. It is our goal to bring in additional volunteers to tutor our students and to help them reach these goals this academic year. Additionally, as an organization, we are always searching for funding and other resources to help us provide the most efficient and effective programming in support of our student’s academic success. To learn more about the Vo-Camp Program, ACOC’s other programs and services, or ways in which you can help us work toward our mission, please visit our website at anacostiaoutreach.org.