PORTSMOUTH —Two years ago the Director of the Children’s Learning Center, Amanda Hedrick, applied for the State’s Striving Readers Literacy grant with the goal to bring to light the importance of early literacy in our region. Those grant funds did not come our way, but Amanda never gave up her search for a funding source and through her efforts found out about AmeriCorps. After competing for funding, AmeriCorps, through ServeOhio, chose to partner with us on this mission. AmeriCorps programming is administered throughout Ohio by ServeOhio, the state’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism. Soon after the awarding of the grant, Hayley Venturino was appointed to be the Project BEAR Coordinator. Keep reading to learn more about Project BEAR: Building Emerging and Achieving Readers, our service members, and how you can join or partner.
AmeriCorps is a national service program administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages more than 80,000 Americans in intensive service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads volunteer initiatives for the nation.
ServeOhio is the state’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism created to empower local communities to mobilize AmeriCorps members and volunteer resources for the purpose of building a stronger Ohio. ServeOhio increases the effective utilization of AmeriCorps members and community volunteers working to address the state’s frontline issues in education, health and economic opportunity.
ServeOhio provides Project BEAR with a Program Officer to help ensure compliance with grant rules and regulations as well as training for our Director, Coordinator, and even our members. Two members of Project BEAR, Hannah Willis and Shyann Gillenwater, represent Project BEAR on ServeOhio’s LeaderCorps.
Project BEAR members trained for 6 weeks before beginning service in their sites. BEAR member training included first aid, CPR, communicable disease, child abuse recognition and prevention, LETRS: Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling Early Childhood, Brigance assessment administration, and hands-on training on implementation of literacy instruction for individual students, small groups and whole groups. In all, the members completed over 90 hours of training before their first day at their service sites.
BEAR member and Freshman Engineering student at SSU, Matthew Fout, conveyed the meaning behind the acronym of BEAR “Project BEAR is an acronym we use to convey the objective of our mission: Building Emerging and Achieving Readers. We accomplish this mission every day by helping our students with their language development, phonemic awareness, and other important skills to help prepare them for future educational success.”
Currently Project BEAR has 12 members serving in 37 classrooms in 18 schools across Scioto County. Our 12 members work diligently to serve just shy of 1,000 students per week. McKenzie Kennedy serves with Project BEAR at a local elementary school in three of their preschool classes, she says that in a typical day of service she is “working with the students building oral language skills, letter sounds, and letter recognition.”
Project BEAR is currently looking for highly motivated individuals to fill the team for the 2020-2021 school year. Contact BEAR Coordinator, Hayley Venturino, resumes and cover letters can be sent to me at [email protected] and since we are working from home, I can be reached on my cell at (740)648-8883.
The benefits of serving with Project BEAR are a bi-weekly payment stipend, federal student loan forbearance, an education award that can be used or gifted (please request more information on the gifting requirements) to be used at any institution that accepts the GI Bill, and even complimentary on-campus housing. AmeriCorps service is a one-year commitment that runs from August to June. All applicants need to be at least 18 years of age; holding a valid driver’s license is preferred.
We are growing! Project BEAR started in Scioto County, but we are in talks with schools and programs outside of the county for expansion in the 2020-2021 school year and beyond. If you would like to bring Project BEAR to your school or program in or around Scioto County, contact BEAR Coordinator, Hayley Venturino [email protected] and since we are working from home, I can be reached on my cell at (740)648-8883. (740)351-3059 or Director, Amanda Hedrick (740)351-3252 to find out how you can make that possible.
We have partnered with Easter Seals and will be hiring 2 members to promote the Governor’s partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in 7 counties: Scioto, Pike, Jackson, Gallia, Megis, Vinton & Hocking.
And as an outreach, our Project BEAR members are posting videos of book readings daily on our Project BEAR at SSU Facebook page in response to the COVID crisis.
To find more about this project, look up Shawnee State University Children’s Learning Center Project BEAR or on their Facebook page. There is a copy of their application on this also.
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