Children living in rural and low-income communities often fall behind during the summer months, starting each school year behind where they were the previous spring. Successive summers of limited learning opportunities may cause children to fall below grade level by the end of elementary school - putting them further and further behind more privileged peers.
Energy Express is a 6-week summer program promoting the school success of children living in rural and low-income communities across West Virginia. Its goals are to provide summer learning experiences focused on reading with the goal of retention or increasing reading levels, to serve two nutritious family-style meals each day, to engage college students in service through AmeriCorps, and to develop strong partnerships involving parents, schools, communities, and state agencies and organizations.
Each day, 40 children who are entering first through sixth grades will arrive at the site to where they will work with AmeriCorps members serving as mentors.
Using a place-based curriculum that encourages reading, mentors guide the children through enriching experiences that make reading meaningful in their lives - creating books, reading aloud, writing and performing plays, reading silently, journaling, reading one-on-one with others, and exploring creative and exciting art activities. Weekly themes of "myself," "family," "homeplace," "community" and "ideal world" guide the development of a "print-rich" environment. Related activities encourage children to appreciate themselves, their personal experiences, and their place in the world.
Each week every child receives a free take-home book, related to the theme. Mentors work with their groups to develop community service projects the children complete. For example, they could create books to donate to libraries, read at nursing homes and hospitals, and write and record public service announcements - learning the value of service while making real contributions to the improvement of their schools and communities.
The WVU Extension Service office and organizations within Randolph County are currently in the planning process to place an Energy Express site at Davis & Elkins College for the summer of 2014.
If you would like to be part of the planning process, please contact Amanda Johnson, WVU Extension Randolph County 4-H Youth Development agent at, 304-636-2455 or at Amanda.Haller@mail.wvu.edu.
In order to make Energy Express a success, we will need help from the community. There will be opportunities for people, organizations, and students to help. The Energy Express site has an average of 58 community, family and teen volunteers.
There are ways you can support a child's participation in the Randolph County Energy Express. The site will complete a community service project. Past service projects include beautifying a park, offering art activities in the local park, and a food collection for the school backpack program.
Donations can assist with the service project or provide additional take home books to participants. Please make checks payable to Randolph County Energy Express and designate for additional take home books or community service project. Send to Amanda Johnson, Randolph County WVU Extension Agent for 4-H Youth Development, 32 Randolph Ave, Suite 102, Elkins, WV, 26241.
There will be opportunities for summer employment as a mentor or community coordinator. Mentors and the community coordinator are AmeriCorps positions.
The program is currently accepting applications for five Energy Express mentors and a community coordinator.
AmeriCorps Mentor minimum qualifications are: 18 or older by June 12, U.S. citizen, full-time undergraduate, or college-bound graduating high school senior, or May 2014 college graduate or December 2013 college graduate without full-time employment. Mentors serve directly with children and make learning fun for small groups of school-age children by creating an enriching environment focused on reading, writing, drama, and art. Mentors also eat breakfast and lunch with the children - a valuable time to develop strong bonds.
The AmeriCorps Community Coordinator minimum qualifications are: 18 or older by June 12, U.S. citizen; and high school diploma or equivalent. The community coordinator serves directly with volunteers, raise awareness, and involve parents and the community with children's learning. Community coordinators recruit, train, and supervise volunteers to read with children and engage in other activities at the site.
Go online and visit energyexpress.ext.wvu.edu/what-we-do/service/americorps for specific AmeriCorps application and complete job descriptions.
AmeriCorps members are required to serve on-site everyday for at least 6 hours and to serve some evenings and weekends to meet all service responsibilities and requirements.
Programs and activities offered by the West Virginia University Extension Service are available to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, veteran status, political beliefs, sexual orientation, national origin, and marital or family status. Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution.
Consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act, applicants needing reasonable accommodations during the employment process should advise as necessary.