Salvation Army has a Good Story to Tell

Read All About It!
Posted on 06/21/2018
Image of Salvation Army Day Camp(Maria Lindsay writing for Side Leader)

The Salvation Army’s Akron Citadel Corps is teaming up with the United Way of Summit County to tackle literacy and eighth-grade math scores in a summer day camp for children entering first through eighth grades. The program is also utilizing a new science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-based curriculum from the NASA Glenn Research Center, as well as lessons in robotics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to Marian Calvin, director of development at the Salvation Army, the day camp, which runs weekdays from June 11 to Aug. 17, offers instruction not only in readingbut dance, drama, music theory and instruments such as piano, guitar, bass and violin, as well as hydroponics and botany through urban farming. The class work also includes field trips.

“This is not your father’s Salvation Army programming,” said Calvin. “This is excellent summer programming designed to engage students through a love of reading and learning and STEM programming that will carry into the school year.”

Calvin said the new literacy program adopted for the summer day camp is modeled after the One Book One School national program, which uses one book for students of all ages and adapts instruction for each grade level. She added that the selected book, “Poppy” by Avi, is about a young female deer mouse who develops leadership skills after an authoritarian great horned owl, Mr. Ocax, that rules Dimwood Forest devours a golden mouse who was about to propose to her because they went to a hilltop without first getting his permission.

Susan Flowers, mission strategist for business at the Salvation Army, explained the book was chosen because it appeals to a wide range of ages and teaches science, values and vocabulary.

Literacy coordinator and teacher Donya Bedilion said the book is used for five age groups with age-appropriate lessons.

“We looked at the scientific research to show us what works, and we are making the class as fun as possible,” added Flowers.

Flowers said the approach to help students improve literacy includes adults reading to children to improve comprehension levels and model good reading habits, with guest readers such as Summit County Probate Court Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer, who underwrote the purchase of the books; Akron Public Schools Superintendent David James; and the book’s author, Avi, reading to students via Skype. In addition, students read as a group and to an adult, who monitors their skills, and enjoy independent reading in small tents set up in “Dimwood Forest.”

The fun part of the program is presented through the recreation of Dimwood Forest in the facility’s gym. This includes a giant oak, an owl and a dark forest surrounding them.

Calvin said the program has other goals.

“This summer day camp has been designed to reduce summer learning loss for students,” said Calvin.

Flowers added Summit Education Initiative officials will monitor outcomes of the program using student data collected at the beginning of this school year and at the end.

She said the “well-balanced” program, which is full this year, costs families $55 per child per week and includes lunch and two snacks daily, as well as one meal sent home for each child on weekends.

Calvin said Salvation Army officials would like to create an endowment to continue and refine the program in the years to come.

“We are choosing to provide the best education program that we can,” she added. “These children deserve quality program and the best learning opportunities because the path to breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty lies in education.”

The Salvation Army, according to its mission statement, is an international movement and “an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

Image of Salvation Army Day Camp

(Students in the program are pictured above reading the book, with Ocax in the middle watching.)
Image of Salvation Army Day Camp(
The Salvation Army day camp has recreated the Great Oak in Dimwood Forest from the book “Poppy,” by Avi, for its new literacy program. The sixth- and seventh-grade class is shown at right in front of the oak with Mr. Ocax, the owl, on a stump at left.)
Image of Salvation Army Day Camp

(Pictured above, from left, are Ny’ziah Taylor Martin, Marshea Woodruff and Hope Gordon talking about the story.)

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