Public Education Partners (PEP) kicked off their 2019 Make Summer Count (MSC) program during a special literacy event at Monaview Elementary School on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.
The event featured guest speaker and Scholastic author, Lester Laminack, representatives from Greenville County Schools, and the opportunity for students to select books to add to their home libraries. The program annually reaches over 18,300 K–5 students, across 29 higher-needs elementary schools.
“Two core components of Make Summer Count are ensuring high-interest books are in every child’s home and promoting family literacy,” said Dr. Ansel Sanders, PEP’s President and CEO. “These research-based strategies target a debilitating phenomenon that effects far too many of our young students: summer reading loss. Now entering its 6th year, we’re thrilled to once again bring Make Summer Count to Greenville County elementary schools.”
MSC is a reading initiative developed and led by PEP, in partnership with Greenville County Schools (GCS) and Scholastic, with the goal to help eliminate summer reading loss. It is comprised of two opportunities for literacy engagement: MSC Book Celebrations, which help build home libraries by allowing students to self-select 10 free, age-appropriate, high-interest books to take home; and Family Reading Night events during the summer, where families are invited to learn strategies to support their children’s reading and to receive additional books.
“Initiated by Public Education Partners, Make Summer Count is a fantastic example of a program born out of a public-private partnership that is helping thousands of students maintain their reading levels over the summer months and keeping them on track for success,” said Dr. W. Burke Royster, Superintendent, Greenville County Schools. “Greenville County Schools is deeply appreciative of its over 30-year partnership with PEP and we look forward to continuing to partner on such efforts as Make Summer Count and others into the future.”
In addition to Sanders and Royster, the MSC Kickoff event also included remarks from Damon Qualls, Principal of Monaview Elementary School, and Lester Laminack, Professor Emeritus at Western Carolina University, full-time writer of both children’s and academic literature, and sought-after consultant and conference speaker. Laminack’s work includes the academic text, “Unwrapping the Read Aloud: Making Every Read Aloud an Intentional Act,” and the children’s book, “Three Hens and a Peacock,” which he read to students while modeling essential read-aloud techniques to audience members.
“Books read aloud by a teacher who is both thoroughly familiar with the language and in love with the writing are perhaps the most powerful force in developing the desire to learn to read and write,” said Laminack. “As a teacher you hold the power to lift the soul of a child.
The MSC program has been studied and replicated by Scholastic in Stoughton, MA, serving as a model for districts nationwide on how to improve literacy year-round. The measurable results provided by Scholastic’s study, showing how the program is effective in helping to eliminate the summer slide, led to MSC receiving the 2017 Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award for Excellence, and to PEP receiving the South Carolina International Reading Association’s 2017–2018 Literacy Award.
“PEP deeply thanks its thousands of supporters who continue to invest their time and money to ensure Make Summer Count continues to have an impact each and every year,” said Sanders.