Reading is at the heart of Freedom School, and it creates the foundation for everything we do. Academic strength is built on literacy, and our scholars gain the skills (and passion!) to become lifelong readers and learners. - Freedom School Partners
You’ve probably heard about summer learning loss, when a child’s achievement scores declines in reading and in math over summer vacation. The consequences of summer learning loss have been especially hard on children living in lower-income, underserved communities - who can lose up to two to three months in reading comprehension during the summer break. Without intervention, children who fall behind over the summer are typically two years behind their counterparts by the time they reach the third grade.
The Matthews Playhouse of the Performing Arts wants to help do our part to reduce these learning gaps, made worse by the pandemic, and is proud to partner with the Freedom School Partners, a local non-profit that promotes the long-term success of children by preventing summer learning loss and igniting a passion for reading and learning.
Through their summer literacy and enrichment program, Freedom School Partners provide opportunities for under-served students to grow and thrive in the classroom. In 2021, more than 87% of children participating in their programs maintained or gained reading ability and 83% of parents reported an increase in their child’s confidence in their reading ability.
MPH has proudly supported the Freedom School Summer Literacy program for the last few years. Even during the pandemic, we were able to provide tangible materials to make crafts and to interact with a virtual theatre experience for students with our online performance of “The Rainbow Fish Musical.” Our own theatre students have a history of volunteering to serve and interact with their students each summer.
Earlier this month, MPH Executive Director, Sarah Baumgardner, paid the Freedom School Partners and its Executive Director, Alexis Young, a visit while delivering donated copies of Rainbow Fish books for their students to enjoy. “Entering the Freedom School warehouse brought back joyful memories of my own mother’s elementary school classroom and helping her prepare her classroom every summer,” says Sarah. “As we stepped into the warehouse space, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the aroma of school supplies and the sight of stacks of notebooks, paper and the organized totes filled with supplies. A great deal of care and love for the children goes into preparing these programs every summer.”
During the meeting, Sarah and Alexis brainstormed on new ideas on how we can continue this special partnership. We look forward to joining them for their Jubilee Day in July and to helping them find more volunteers to keep this great program alive and thriving in Charlotte.
Learn more about Freedom School Partners in this video.