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Talk/Read/Succeed!

Superheroes join forces to solve literacy puzzles

Superheroes join forces to solve literacy puzzles

With a perfect blend of superheroes and literacy, a recent dinner party at Dorman Elementary School was a solid hit.

The early evening celebration, dubbed ‘Superhero Literacy Night,’ drew a crowd to the cafeteria and surrounding hallways and classrooms to the school in the Pine Point section of the city. Among those in attendance were a generous sprinkling of caped Supermen, Superwomen, Hulks, Batmen, Catwomen and more.

Dorman Elementary School parents enjoy a meal before playing superhero-themed games in a collaborative event with Springfield Housing Authority's Talk/Read/Succeed! program.

Dorman Elementary School parents enjoy a meal before playing superhero-themed games in a collaborative event with Springfield Housing Authority’s Talk/Read/Succeed! program.

The night was planned by the Dorman School-Centered Decision-Making team of educators and parents, Springfield Housing Authority’s Talk/Read/Succeed! program, and a grant from the Funder Collaborative for Reading Success. Featured were light dinners for the hungry, and a series of literacy-based games for the young set. Participating T/R/S! families live at the nearby Robinson Gardens Apartments.

Dorman Principal Rhonda Stowell-Lewis and other school staffers passed out meals and helped children move from one activity to the next. Stowell-Lewis proclaimed the night was a success.

“This is awesome, absolutely,” she said. “We’re very excited to have a literacy event here that has a theme of superheros – because who doesn’t love superheroes?”

Brothers Hancel and Alberto Valentin, ages 8 and 4, are ready for the superheroes-themed games.

Brothers Hancel and Alberto Valentin, ages 8 and 4, are ready for the superheroes-themed games.

To prove it, Stowell-Lewis and paraprofessional Jennifer Gagnon turned to show off their Wonder Woman capes.

T/R/S! Program Coordinators Lynne Cimino and Zenaida Burgos were on hand to oversee the fun stuff, with games and competitions including ‘Parts of Speech,’ ‘Superhero Rhyming Words,’ ‘Superhero Word Building’ and ‘What Superhero Villain am I?’

Cimino said the games were designed to spur both teamwork and competition, vocabulary building, and reading skills. Oh, and plenty of good clean fun.

“We’ve tried to create a program that focuses on literacy skills, brings families together, and provides a fun entertaining night for everyone,” Cimino said. “It’s all about superheroes, and we’ve got some pretty cool costumes here.”

Indeed, after the dinner, children and parents scrambled from one game station to another, with an allotted 10 minutes at each of the five areas set aside for the night. The night culminated in a raffle, with many bringing home books and other prizes for their efforts.

SHA's Robinson Gardens Apartments residents Shonda Pete and her daughter Kierra Chapman, 9, at the event at Dorman Elementary School.

SHA’s Robinson Gardens Apartments residents Shonda Pete and her daughter Kierra Chapman, 9, at the event at Dorman Elementary School.

Parents like Ivette Fernandez, who brought her two young sons from their Robinson Gardens Apartments home, offered high praise for the night.

“This is great,” said Fernandez, who participates in as many T/R/S! events and programs as she can. “I love the superheroes theme, and so do my boys. It’s fun for the kids.”

In its eighth year, T/R/S! is a family-based early literacy program at two SHA family developments – Robinson Gardens and Sullivan Apartments – and their feeder elementary schools – Dorman and Boland. Programs are offered both at the developments and in the schools, where parents have been more active and children have flourished.

The Funder Collaborative for Reading Success grant awarded this year is paying for four literacy-based activities at each of the two locations targeted in the T/R/S! program.

Dorman Elementary School paraprofessional Jennifer Gagnon and Principal Rhonda Stowell-Lewis show off their Wonder Woman capes.

Dorman Elementary School paraprofessional Jennifer Gagnon and Principal Rhonda Stowell-Lewis show off their Wonder Woman capes.

Another Robinson Gardens parent, Shonda Pete, agreed that the combining of literacy and superheroes was a perfect way to get children enthusiastic – a typical strategy for T/R/S! events and programming.

“It’s an awesome event, and I helped plan it,” said Pete, who is active on the Dorman SCDM team. “It’s a great way to bring people together  and show kids how important it is to be in school and to be learning.”

Her daughter, Kierra Chapman, added a few thoughts of her own.

“I love this,” said the 9-year-old, sporting a Batwoman cape. “I like dressing up and I love doing things at school that are fun.”

Stay tuned. T/R/S!, and Dorman will be planning more events for families.

135 days ago / Talk/Read/Succeed!
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