Local News

April 13, 2014

Saturday Academy wraps up

Martha Moreno was so excited about her 3-year-old daughter participating in the Saturday Academy this spring she could hardly put everything into words.

“It helps a lot,” she said. “The first time that I came, it was amazing.”

Moreno and her family were among about 60 participants who were wrapping up a six-week summer program at the Mack Gaston Community Center designed to help children ages 3 to 5 prepare for school. The two-hour classes each week were designed so entire families — rather than only children within a certain age group — could participate. Volunteers and a few paid organizers reviewed age-appropriate educational topics in science, math, art and literacy, said Katy Green of the Archway Partnership.

Archway is a University of Georgia-based program in which staff members work with communities to organize initiatives to help them address needs. The Saturday Academy is one facet of an overall community initiative called Readers to Leaders to address literacy in Whitfield County.

Green said several parents are already asking organizers to hold the program again next year. It was funded through private donations, Green said, but leaders are hoping to expand it next year through grants they plan to apply for. Some 25 families enrolled. Various churches, organizations and others provided lunch and breakfast free of charge to participants.

Those who taught the classes or volunteered in other ways include the Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership, Dalton Public Schools, Dalton State College, the Dalton-Whitfield Public Library and Archway participants.

“They come once a week, and the whole family takes the preschool classes,” Green said. “The idea is to educate the entire family.”

Parent Reina Brito said she appreciates that she was able to bring her 1-and-a-half-year-old daughter to the program while her 3-and-a-half-year-old son was learning. She said the older boy teaches his sister what he knows as she’s able to learn.

“He loved it,” she said. “Anything he’s learning, she’ll learn it eventually.”

Green said there was also a class for siblings older than 5 that focused on games and other activities they would enjoy while the younger ones were learning. Parents reviewed the preschool concepts alongside their little ones and were given assignments to help their children continue learning throughout the week.

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