The Niagara Falls area youngsters participating in Niagara University's Primary Enhancement Program have been read to by several members of NU's faculty and staff since the course began on June 27. Today, it was the Rev. Joseph Levesque's turn, as the university president shared the story of "Tacky the Penguin" with the 20-plus students in attendance.
Levesque's recitation of the Helen Lester classic was the latest in a smorgasbord of activities planned for the K-2 students enrolled in PEP, a camp designed to bridge the reading achievement gap for 6-8-year-olds. To thank Levesque for his appearance, the children serenaded him with the elementary school staple, "The More We Get Together."
"With the reduction in funding for summer schools, these young students really need an environment that will allow them to maintain - and even enhance - the skills that they left school with in June," explained Patti Wrobel, assistant dean for external relations in Niagara University's College of Education. "The program is really a win-win, because it gives our graduate students the chance to apply the knowledge that they've learned in the classroom as well."
The Primary Enhancement Program is a collaborative effort between NU's College of Education, the Niagara Falls City School District and the Orleans/Niagara BOCES Literacy Zone. The three-week summer program, now in its third year, enlists graduate students from the College of Education to work with campers daily from 9 a.m. to noon to enhance literacy skills. Participants also take weekly "field trips" to places such as the on-campus Post Office and Castellani Art Museum.
There are 41 children from Harry F. Abate, Hyde Park and Niagara Street elementary schools participating in the current installment of the program.