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Literacy Clinic brings hope, tutoring and fun to children this summer through free program

June 26, 2015

Photo of a stack of alphabet blocks spelling “literacy”

This summer, students entering first through fifth grades have the opportunity to participate in an exciting new tutoring program titled Good Life Academy, New Hope, which will be held at the New Hope Baptist Church in DeKalb. The program, which is free and open to the public, is funded by generous donors and supported by Good Life Academy, the Jerry L. Johns Literacy Clinic, America Reads and America Counts.

Planning for the this year’s program began last summer when Laurie Elish-Piper, director of the Jerry L. Johns Literacy Clinic; Brenda Donley, executive director of the Good Life Foundation; Jennifer Groce, NIU’s director of community affairs; and Suzi Hinrichs, assistant director of the Jerry L. Johns Literacy Clinic had meetings about how to better serve students in need.

“Last summer we had a tutoring program through the Westminster Presbyterian Church, which was put together in two weeks,” Hinrichs said. “This year we have the benefit of time to get organized, the experience from last year, and additional resources.”

Hinrichs said the program has expanded to include an academic program coordinator, more tutors and parent assistants.

Thanks to generous donors, the Jerry L. Johns Literacy Clinic was able to hire four parent assistants and an academic program coordinator.  Academic Program Coordinator Kristal Armstrong, an NIU alumna, brings a plethora of experience to the program and is a teacher at Tyler Elementary School in DeKalb.

Hinrichs said the program’s curriculum will include classroom learning stations where students rotate to work on phonics, spelling, reading comprehension and math.  She also emphasized that the tutors will facilitate engaging and fun learning activities during the station rotations. “Our goal is circumvent the summer slump and the back to school blues,” Hinrichs said. “The idea is that the children will have so much fun learning this summer, they will bring energy and enthusiasm back to school in the fall.”

Teachers will also benefit from the progress students make in the program. The academic program coordinator will facilitate pre-testing for reading and math, so she can assess where the students are, and plan for their academic growth. The coordinator will also facilitate post-testing at the end of the summer, so the program can communicate any academic gains made to the children’s new teachers.

“We are really excited about having Kristal Armstrong coordinate the program,” Hinrichs said.

The tutoring program runs Monday through Thursdays and concludes Aug. 13.  Parents are encouraged to enter their children now. All students who attend must stay for the entire tutoring session, which runs from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and includes a free breakfast.  For more information contact Brenda Donley at (815) 970-2132.