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SIUE East St. Louis Center receives Boeing grant for new kindergarten readiness camp


siueboeinggrantFrom left: Rich Walker, SIUE interim vice chancellor for administration; Johanna Wharton, ESLC director of New Program Initiatives; Jesse Dixon, ESLC executive director; Brittany Douglas and Amber Hersh, both Boeing community investors; and Jeff Sweet, manager of Global Corporate Citizenship, Central Region.

The Boeing Company is helping Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Center prepare students for kindergarten who have not been able to participate in a high-quality early childhood program.

The ESLC was awarded a $65,000 grant from the St. Louis division of the multinational corporation that designs, manufactures and sells airplanes, rotorcraft, rockets, and satellites worldwide.

The center was recognized on Nov. 1 at Boeing’s Grant Award Ceremony. Accepting the award were SIUE Interim Vice Chancellor for Administration Rich Walker, ESLC Executive Director Jesse Dixon and ESLC Director of New Program Initiatives Johanna Wharton.

The Center introduced its pilot “Kindergarten Camp” from June 15-July 15 aimed at serving 40 children who never attended preschool. With the help of Boeing’s grant, the Center plans to enroll 80 East St. Louis children in its second camp, which will run from June 12 to July 14, 2017, and will be in partnership with East St. Louis School District 189.

“In East St. Louis, data shows us that children who attend SIUE Head Start or other high quality early childhood centers are ready to learn and fully prepared when they enter kindergarten,” Dixon said.
“This initiative is designed to provide early reading, math and social-emotional skills to students among the 60 percent in East St. Louis who enter kindergarten without that experience.”

Dixon also noted that pre and post test results indicated that participant’s scores improved in cooperation, assertion, empathy, communication, responsibility, engagement and self-control. The largest gains were reported in self-control, communication and engagement with 30 percent of participants in each domain increasing from below average skills to average skills.

“Boeing has been great to partner with us in a program that we feel will have a tremendous impact in the East St. Louis community,” said Dixon.

“SIUE Kindergarten Camp” will get students excited about learning and school through highly-engaging hands-on academic and enrichment activities, according to Wharton.

Some of the activities include:

• Social emotional skills (sharing, listening and etc.)
• STEAM (science, introduction to computer operations, gaming, numeracy and performance arts)
• School behaviors (lining up, using the restroom, eating meals and etc.)
• Pre-literacy and language skills (sounds of speech, familiarity with print and books, purpose of texts and etc.)
• Basic skills (recognition of numbers, letters, colors and etc.)

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