08/11/2003; Section=News; Page=1B
Hillcrest summer learning program growing
Parent group to seek nonprofit status, has desire to expand
The Journal News
A group of parents who decided that education shouldn¹t just be the
responsibility of the schools ? and shouldn¹t just take place during the school year will celebrate the first anniversary of its summer learning program this weekend.
Naomi¹s Program of Excellence began last year as a way for parents to make sure their children¹s educational skills didn¹t fall off during the summer vacation. The program was so popular with adults and children that it continued year-round.
Now, the families, most of whom live in Hillcrest, are working to set up the program as a nonprofit agency. They hope to attract corporate grants so they can expand it to include more children.
There are 13 children from ages 4 to 13 who take part in Naomi¹s Program of Excellence. The group has a waiting list, said Jacqueline Cherry, a founder and president of the program.
³A lot of parents are really interested. They¹re looking for something to further enhance what the kids are doing in school,² she said. ³The kids are really learning that adults are valuing education.²
The families celebrated yesterday the end of the six-week summer program. The program, which Cherry said was made up of an academic and ³exploratory² component, met once a week. In the academic section, students would study math, reading, writing and social studies.
The exploratory component included lessons on how to use Microsoft
PowerPoint and how to play chess and various sports. The students also
studied culture and were encouraged to volunteer or become involved with community events.
The program was named after Cherry¹s 2-year-old daughter, Naomi, who died in February 2000 from pneumonia, a complication of brittle bone disease.
Tyric Martin, a 12-year-old entering seventh grade at Felix Festa Middle School next month, said the program was not summer school. He said he really enjoyed it, and that he felt more prepared for school than his classmates might be.
³I like it a lot. It¹s a great program. It helps you review and get you to the next grade,² he said. ³We get to socialize after.²
Parent Dennis McGloster said the program had done some small fund raising. However, he¹s hoping by becoming a nonprofit agency, members will be able to raise money to do larger projects.
³We have a lot of passion about this. We¹re picking up steam; nothing scares me off,² he said. ³We¹re going to pretty much do some serious grant writing and some corporate begging. There¹s just so much we want to do.²
Cherry said the program had side benefits that she didn¹t consider when it began, such as new relationships with other parents in her neighborhood.
³It¹s become more of a community,² she said, adding that she now had
neighbors willing to baby-sit her child if she had an emergency or pick them up from school or camp if she was running late.
³Things that we never thought of are happening,² she said. ³Those are
secondary benefits that we really didn¹t even think about.²
Reach Andrea Rubin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 845-578-2426.