MORGANTOWN — “Any room you walk in, you’re going to see words and writing everywhere,” Kristie Cumberledge, site supervisor for Energy Express and teacher at Skyview, said as she explained the Energy Express program at Mylan Park Elementary.
“As a teacher, I know that’s a struggle; if you want the kids to write, they become so wrapped up in making sure they spell things correctly and word choice, so through Energy Express, that’s never an issue or concern because there are so many words around the room for them to utilize and it still makes them feel independent because they’re not having to ask the teacher for help,” she said.
The program is over a span of eight weeks, and it is designed for children living in West Virginia’s rural and low-income communities and it focuses on summer reading as well as providing proper nutrition to the students.
Cumberledge is approaching her 29th year of being a teacher and she said that her draw to getting involved in the program was not only the education aspect but also providing nutritional meals to the students that attend the program.
“The premise of the program is not only academic but it’s also to provide two hot meals a day and just a great, fun learning experience but they don’t realize sometimes how much learning is happening because it’s so much fun,” Cumberledge said.
Another goal for the program, according to Cumberledge, is having at least 29 of their students attend for more than 15 days and she said that they are at 93 percent.
She said her favorite part of the program is bringing each student the positivity they need to have a good day.
“I love greeting them and seeing them off every day – it’s so important to start them out with a good day, no matter what’s happening with the outside world, and to end their day on a positive note,” Cumberledge said.
Cumberledge said that it’s very easy to get caught up in negative, and through the program, her goal is to incorporate positivity in everything they do.
“We focus on the positive with each other. Every day after the kids leave, we talk about our highs and lows for the day. We don’t focus on the lows but it’s just a way that we can turn that around just so it doesn’t turn into something more,” she said. “We start every day anew.”
Eddie Campbell Jr., Monongalia County’s new superintendent of schools, made an appearance at Mylan Park Elementary to learn more about the program offered to students.
Campbell said his goal going into his new role is to be a model to other school districts by maintaining and raising the bar for Monongalia County for the upcoming school year.
“You have to begin with the thought process that this is the premiere school district in the state of West Virginia,” Campbell said. “The work that they’ve done over the last two decades to get to this point has been incredible. Coming in as a new superintendent, you think that’s kind of daunting; where do you go from here? Our job now is not only to maintain…we want to continue to raise the bar for ourselves.”
For Campbell, having a program such as Energy Express can really make a difference on the students in getting excited for the school year as well as improving their reading skills.
“This is fantastic. I am just amazed at the number of kids that we are impacting as a school system in the summertime,” Campbell said. “They’re excited about learning and I think that carries itself over into the school year.”
Having students continuing to learn and improve their reading skills in the summer months is a beneficial factor to programs such as Energy Express, according to Campbell.
“It’s the fun things that we’re doing with learning in the summer months; not only are they excited and ready to learn but they haven’t had that gap in their learning process that goes on a lot of times in the summer,” Campbell said. “These kids here are reading. They’re going to walk into class on the first day and their reading is going to improve over the summer as opposed to reversing itself. That gives our teachers a leg-up, it gives our students a leg-up and to be able to have programs like that I think is only going to benefit us year-in and year-out as we return to school.”
Campbell commended the leadership of the program, as well as the principal of Mylan Park and also having partners for the program to make it possible.
“Having the extension service partner with us in a program like this is just incredible and the school system couldn’t do it without these people,” Campbell said. “The credit is due to them and the success that we have, that credit goes to those folks.”