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Category: Education


It’s Finally Summer Break!

United Way of Southeast Missouri has had a strong focus on education over the last decade. You often hear us share stories and statistics on how impactful some of our after-school programming is for the students. The need for these programs doesn’t go away when the last bell rings though. Many of our partners are hosting summer sessions that you and your children can be a part of.

Read to Succeed

United Way is thrilled to share that our Read to Succeed program will be holding a special 6-week summer session starting in June! Students entering 1st-4th grade next school year are eligible to sign up for the free sessions. Students will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with volunteers in 30 minute sessions every Monday-Thursday.

This means the program is also in need of summer volunteers! More session information is available here, or interested parties can contact Robin Koetting directly.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri

Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri will host their “Passport to Summer 2018” summer camp again this year. Starting June 4th, the seven week day camp will give children the opportunity to play outside, tour places like the Arts Council and River Radio. The camp will also encourage children to work and play with their peers through fun, educational activities.

Learn more about the program and register your kiddos here!

Boy Scouts

It’s time to get weird and wacky with science! The Greater St. Louis Area Council is hosting their annual Cub Scout Day Camp again this summer at Cape County Park North. The week-long Day Camp will run from July 9th – July 13th, 8am – 3pm, with drop off starting at 7:15am.

Day Camp is open to all boys and girls in the community in grades 1-5. Boy Scouts promises to offer an unforgettable outdoor experience with activities such as shooting sports, STEM, hiking, fishing, and more! All youth entering 1st grade in the fall must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

If you have questions or are interested in registering your kiddos for the camp, contact Ashley Duerst or call 314-920-0621.


4-H Camp will be July 2-3 at Pinecrest Camp south of Fredericktown. This year’s theme is Survivor, with workshops consisting of wild edibles, line dancing, swimming, a challenge course, shooting sports, and crafts. There will also be a dance and field games.

4-H is offering quite a few opportunities for youth to stay engaged this summer! For more information contact Lesley Meier or Marsha Birk.


What’s On My Desk?

Several major projects are currently lurking on my desk, but the fact that Teacher Appreciation Week is just around the corner in May has me thinking about the end of the school year and the importance of good K-12 teachers. Among the impressive teachers I’ve had the opportunity to work with thus far have been two area kindergarten teachers, Heather Fisher and Mary Ann Lewis, who graciously agreed to participate in Kindergarten Jumpstart.

For those who may not be in the know, Kindergarten Jumpstart is a fantastic free kindergarten readiness program that is jointly offered by the United Way, the Cape Girardeau Public Library, and the aforementioned local kindergarten teachers. During the four-week program, which is designed for parents and their children, participants learn about the skills children need to succeed in kindergarten, which include basic reading, writing, and counting skills. Failure to master these skills can make it difficult for children to close achievement gaps later on in life. Although these skills might seem very simple and unimportant, research has shown that nationwide nearly one out of three children entering kindergarten is underprepared. And so the fantastic kindergarten teachers who volunteer their time to participate in Kindergarten Jumpstart give children and their parents a preview of what the kindergarten experience will be like, assuage different sets of anxieties, and reinforce the importance of having acquired such basic skills as being able to write their names and count. Over the summer, then, parents can help their children practice these skills. When the academic year begins, children and parents alike are better-equipped to deal with the challenge of beginning school.

At this writing, our Kindergarten Jumpstart is halfway through. Under the tutelage of an experienced local kindergarten teacher, approximately ten adorable and enthusiastic pre-K children and their parents gathered together. Weeks One and Two were successful: children happily practiced writing their names, listened to stories, created puzzles, and danced, while their parents learned about strategies to help their children acquire reading and writing skills and  improve their fine motor skills, as well as the importance of rhyming.  At the end of the session, children and parents headed into the warm, fragrant spring evening, the children excited about going to kindergarten, their parents armed with a much clearer understanding of how to best prepare their children to succeed.


Are your kids doing the Summer Slide?

The “summer slide” is not the newest addition to the water park and it is not the latest video game. It is not a ride you want any child in our community to be on. Unfortunately, too many of them are.

“Summer slide,” the common term for the loss of learning that occurs during the summer months when students are not in school, happens to most youth at some level, particularly in math. However, low-income youth lose about two months, about 22 percent of the school year, in reading while their middle-income peers actually make slight gains, according to the National Summer Learning Association. Even more concerning is the accumulative effect “summer slide” has on low-income children. By fifth grade, they average 2.5 to 3 grades behind.

60 percent of low-income families do not have age-appropriate books at home. Kids just simply aren’t reading in the summer and so they slide backward. Only about one-third of low-income youth participate in a summer learning opportunity and so they continue to slide backward.

“Summer slide” is affecting hundreds of children each year in our community­-but it doesn’t have to.

There’s still time for kids to pick up a book this summer. Research shows that reading just six books during the summer may keep a struggling reader from regressing. Take your children to your local library or bookstore and let them pick out a book they’re going to love today. They will be better readers tomorrow for it.

Are your kid’s grown? The success of all children in your community should still be important to you. Help children avoid the “summer slide” by supporting the United Way of Southeast Missouri’s education impact efforts. Drop off new or gently used books to our office at 430A Broadway, Cape Girardeau or visit our website, and donate directly to our Education initiatives.


Attendance Awareness Month: Helping Parents Understand How to Boost Thier Child’s School Success

Nationwide, as many as one out of 10 students is chronically absent, meaning they miss 10 percent or more of school days, or nearly a month over the course of a year. Chronic absence is an early indicator of academic trouble and is a strong predictor of high school dropout.  Attending school every day, even as early as kindergarten, is essential in a child’s long term academic success. Studies show that children who miss more than 18 days of their kindergarten year often end up with lower test scores later on.  Missing 20% of the school year is a better predictor of dropping out than test scores.

Absences, excused or not, can easily add up to too much lost time in the classroom.  Some absences are unavoidable, especially when children are ill and need to say home. The important part is that children attend school as many days as possible so they don’t miss out on the learning that happens in the classroom.

Reducing chronic absence can help close achievement gaps. Chronic absence especially affects achievement for low-income students who depend more on school for opportunities to learn. Because they are more likely to face systemic barriers to getting to school, low-income children have higher levels of chronic absence starting as early as prekindergarten. Chronic absence data can be used to trigger interventions so high-risk student populations receive the supports they need, ideally before they fall behind academically.

Get involved in improving attendance in your community. All of us can make a difference by helping students and families get excited about learning and feeling more connected with their schools, setting the expectation that attending school every day matters and working together to identify and help families overcome barriers to getting to school. Community partners are especially important for helping schools and families address and overcome tough barriers, such as limited access to health care, unstable housing, poor transportation or neighborhood violence.

Relationship building is also fundamental to any strategy for improving student attendance. Students are more likely to go to school if they know someone cares whether they show up. Trusting relationships – whether with teachers, mentors, coaches or other caring adults – are critical to encouraging families and students to seek out help to overcome barriers to attendance. Encourage a child today!

Join the United Way’s Social Media Campaign on September 18: Simply tweet or post a Facebook message. Upload a picture to Instagram of your child heading out to school.  Use hashtags #SchoolEveryDay and #LiveUnited