INFUSING SUMMER WITH LITERACY FUN
Mobile Rec Program
For several years, the City of Fort Worth’s Park & Recreation Department, Fort Worth ISD, educators, philanthropic leaders and community supporters have partnered to offer “Mobile Rec”, a free summer day camp serving children from south side neighborhoods who have limited access to recreation centers.
The camp provides safe, structured activities and meals during the summer months for children ages 5 – 14 from underserved neighborhoods.
R.L. Paschal High School began serving as a host of the Mobile Rec program in summer 2016 as a way for campus leaders to strengthen relationships with families of younger students who eventually will become Paschal Panthers.
This summer, Paschal added a literacy component to the camp to align programming with other area summer learning efforts and with the Fort Worth ISD’s goal of ensuring that 100 percent of third-graders are reading on grade level by 2025.
The camp is operating 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through July 28 from two locations – Paschal High and George C. Clarke Elementary School on South Henderson Street. The camp serves some Daggett Middle School students and 240 first-, second- and third-graders from Paschal “feeder schools” including Daggett, DeZavala and Westcliff elementary schools. About 53 percent of the campers are economically disadvantaged.
Certified teachers lead half-day sessions focused on literacy skills three days a week. The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and the Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth stepped forward in late spring to help underwrite the costs of hiring teachers to lead the daily literacy programming blocks.
Video: Mobile Rec Program at Paschal High School
Evidence Based Best Practices
A 2016 RAND Corp. summer learning study found that elementary students with high levels of attendance in voluntary summer learning programs experienced benefits in math and reading.
The report recommended that such programs run at least five weeks, promote consistent attendance, include sufficient instructional time and protect it, invest in instructional quality and factor in attendance and likely no-show rates when staffing the programs to lower per-student costs.
Collective Impact Efforts
We visited with Dr. Terri Mossige, Paschal High School principal, to learn what impact such collective efforts like this can have on a community and on children’s lives. This is what she had to share.
What are you most proud of with this summer’s Mobile Rec program?
I am proud of three different organizations coming together on behalf of our kids in Fort Worth.
We have the Fort Worth Park and Recreation Department that has worked with Pascal High School to help us with parent education in years past. Now, we have come together to add a literacy component as well beginning with some college-career aspects to it as well.
We are primarily focusing on literacy this summer as well as the support of Fort Worth ISD and the 100X25FWTX Initiative, the literacy initiative that we are all dedicated to.
How can collective impact efforts like this make a difference?
I can only speak from my own experience. I am where I am today in my life because of very dedicated community members, parents and friends that I had in high school.
I am a first-generation college graduate, and the impact of the kindness and the guidance that people outside of my family even provided for me has helped me become who I am today.
I do believe we have that capacity of changing kid’s lives. It is not just a great saying, we see it each and every day. From a community organization as well as a high school organization, a lot of times we have the same goals. We want our kids to develop the greatest potential that they have so that they can make a difference in this world. But we cannot continue to work in isolation.
The community agencies, even our faith agencies, as well as schools have got to join together. Schools have kids for 180 days and, in this instance, Mobile Rec has them for the majority of the summer. If we can come together and focus on literacy, I do believe that there will be a positive impact.
What are some of the outcomes you expect from this program?
There is a lot of data that does support summer slide, where kids lose a lot of what they have learned through the 180 days of school the previous year. Our goal is not to have the summer slide for our kids.
Dr. Terri Mossige understands that young children who are strong readers grow up to be academic achievers in high school. She believes that multiple partners must combine efforts to help children master literacy skills year-round and maintain or gain skills throughout the summer to tee up those children for success once they become Paschal Panthers.
There are costs associated with summer literacy programming for items including staff, training and materials, but the concept is simple.
Why not spread this practice across our community?