First Graders Go to College for Read Across America Day

February 27, 2015

On March 2nd, 60 first graders from Greenfield’s Federal Street School will go to college, visiting Greenfield Community College’s Main Campus to celebrate the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day. Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2nd, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. During their day “in college” at GCC’s celebration, the children will listen to President Bob Pura read Seuss’s book The Lorax, plant seeds in the College’s greenhouse, and work on painting projects and an essay activity focusing on “If I was the Lorax, this is how I would help our Earth….” Along with President Pura, GCC faculty, staff, and student volunteers will work with the children during the day.

The Read Across America Day celebration is just one of many collaborations between GCC and the Federal Street School. Melanie A. Zamojski, Faculty in GCC’s Associate Degree Nursing Program, explained, “GCC’s Associate Degree Nursing program has worked with the Federal Street School for several years. Service Learning is a required part of our nursing program to encourage civic and community engagement during our students’ time at GCC and after they graduate. Last year, we started bringing Federal St. School first graders ‘to college,’ providing ‘classes’ on healthy eating and habits. The GCC students learned how to manage and plan teaching activities for this age group. The first graders not only have had consistent contact with GCC students, they ask the nursing students about what it is like going to college and what kind of things are they learning.”

The success of the GCC/Federal St. School wellness project led to discussion between GCC and the school district about how to expand the partnership to include GCC students from other majors.

Greenfield Public Schools District Volunteer Coordinator Marianne Harcourt applauds the expanded partnership saying, “The partnership between GCC Nursing students and the Federal Street School is mutually beneficial. Nursing students have the opportunity to put into practice what they have learned and engage proactively with children and the children begin to understand the importance of healthy eating, exercise, and safety as they grow and develop. Last fall, a group of GCC Early Childhood students hosted the Federal Street first graders in two literacy-based projects. GCC and its students are a wonderful resource for our schools and students. We will continue to think about ways we can expand our partnership with GCC students in our schools.”

Mary McEntee, GCC’s Coordinator of Student Activities & Community Service, said “The partnership between the Greenfield Public Schools and GCC provides great opportunities for GCC students to be involved in community service learning projects. GCC students are taking the initiative to help design and lead these programs. Barbara Adams, a GCC Student Senate member and a parent, is the lead student volunteer working on the Read Across America program. GCC alumna and Massachusetts Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA Coordinator Kia Burton-McLaughlin is based in the Office of Student Activities & Community Service and works with Greenfield High School students helping them prepare for college.”

Along with community service projects with local schools, GCC students volunteer at the Stone Soup Café, participate in gleaning projects with local farms, and help build houses with Habitat for Humanity.

For information about community service learning at GCC, contact Mary McEntee at (413) 775-1200 or mcenteem@gcc.mass.edu. For information about NEA’s Read Across America, visit www.readacrossamerica.org.

By Mary McClintock, ’82

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