PLATTSBURGH — Angel Bechore has been taking advantage of her summer vacation to explore her passion for writing.
In fact, with the help of Plattsburgh State students, the 9-year-old is authoring her own book.
The project is part of the college’s summer Literacy Camp, where Bechore and 18 other area youths between the ages of 5 and 13 are learning the many roles that words play in their daily lives.
“We work on strategies that help them become more effective readers and writers,” said Jean Ann Hunt, director of the camp and associate professor of literacy and teacher education at Plattsburgh State.
But reading and writing is only a part of what children are exposed to in the summer program, which began June 18 and concludes July 12.
“One of our aims is to try to show them that literacy is part of everything that we’re doing,” said Logan Gravel, one of the program’s counselors.
“So instead of just doing traditional reading and writing, we’re teaching them how to read the world and see everything from a lens of literacy.”
Gravel, like all of the Literacy Camp counselors, is a graduate student at Plattsburgh State, majoring in literacy education. The summer program serves not only as an educational camp for area kids but also as the final degree requirement for the college students.
“For students, it really is a clinical experience where they get to apply everything they’ve learned in their master’s degree,” Hunt said.
Each student is assigned just one or two children to work with during the program, which runs 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
The small-group instruction allows the students to find creative ways to work concepts of reading, writing, creating, speaking and listening into activities that cater to the individual interests of each child.
The college students also collaborate with one another and share teaching methods and insights, as teachers might do in an actual school setting.
“We’re learning a lot of different strategies just to make literacy enjoyable for everyone,” said Alison Perry, another of the camp’s counselors.
“We do a lot of hands-on stuff (and) get them (the kids) really involved with what they’re doing.”
While some campers have discovered their knacks for fiction, poetry and song writing, others, like Bechore, have been inspired to create works of non-fiction.
“I made pizza last week with them, and we’re making a how-to book about how we made the pizza,” said Literacy Camp counselor Sarah Frankel.
In addition, the children participate in activities such as literacy-themed obstacle courses and the Readers’ Theater, in which they act out scenes by following written stage instructions.
“They walk away either falling in love with reading and writing for the first time or having their love of reading and writing continue to blossom,” Hunt said.
Seven-year-old Zachary Coughlin needed to attend the camp for only a few days before his enthusiasm for the program was evident to his grandmother Marge Quesnell.
“I can just tell how exuberant he is and how excited he is,” she said.
“He just can’t wait to get here. I can see the program really encourages him to think.”
The cost of the annual camp is $150 per child; however, Gravel said, the program offers a sliding pay scale depending on a family’s income and the number of children a particular family is enrolling.
“Our goal really is to serve as many children as want to be here,” Hunt said.
How wonderful, added Michael Morgan, dean of Plattsburgh State’s Division of Education, Health and Human Services, to be able to provide such a learning experience for both the children of the community and the college’s students.
“That combination is a win-win situation,” he said.
For more information about Plattsburgh State’s Literacy Camp, visit plattsburgh.edu/academics/education/literacy.
Email Ashleigh Livingston: email@example.com