Camp Little Cats pilot program targets reading skills at SES

Simpson County Schools is taking steps to bring young readers up to speed through Camp Little Cats (CLC), a free summer literacy program held 8:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, July 9-26 at Simpson Elementary.

The newly established camp provides targeted instruction in phonics, reading and writing for SES students reading at least half a year below grade level, along with hands-on activities and visual art. A team of certified teachers from SES will work with the students, along with additional services from district support staff.

"This is a pilot year for CLC. We currently have approximately 30 students entering grades 1-3 registered," Camp Little Cats Director Jennifer Sheffield said. "They were invited to attend based on their reading profiles as being most likely to benefit from this program."

CLC is part of an effort to close the reading achievement gap in Simpson County, and is modeled after a summer literacy camp in Texas that Superintendent Jim Flynn learned about during a national education conference.

"The camp is designed with a literacy focus to help primary students stay on track with their reading skills and combat the 'summer slide' that commonly occurs when students are out of school during the break," Sheffield said. "Research has shown it is pivotal for students to be at or above grade level in reading by the end of third grade to be adequately prepared for their educational journey through high school graduation. "

CLC students will also get a first look at SuccessMaker, an online literacy program SES plans to adopt schoolwide, and explore specialized subjects for a comprehensive learning experience.

"Camp CLC is not designed to be summer school, but a fun summer camp that integrates literacy skills," Sheffield said. "Therefore, students will also enjoy special classes each week."

These activities include art with elementary GT resource teacher Dianne Wade, coding and technology with District Technology Integration Specialist Krista Jackson, active learning with Community Education Director Robin Hollingsworth and a variety of STEM sessions with SES Library Media Specialist Sam Northern.

"We hope to build upon the program and offer it again with a broader scope next summer," Sheffield said. "The hope is these students will not only have fun learning but also come back to school in August at or above grade level in reading."

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