Cambridge kids graduate Learning Circle program

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper Hope Lee holds Joiceann’s first “diploma” at the Waugh Chapel graduation ceremony for the kids participating in Anchor Point’s Learning Circle school readiness program. Joiceann’s mom and Anchor Point’s Alan McRae look on.

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Hope Lee holds Joiceann’s first “diploma” at the Waugh Chapel graduation ceremony for the kids participating in Anchor Point’s Learning Circle school readiness program. Joiceann’s mom and Anchor Point’s Alan McRae look on.


By Paul Clipper
Dorchester Banner

CAMBRIDGE — Anchor Point Thrift Store recently held its first Learning Circle graduation at Waugh Chapel UM Church. The Learning Circle program is designed to prepare pre-school children for their first day of school.

According to Anchor Point, 78 percent of Dorchester County children are not testing “ready” on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment upon entering school. Anchor Point wants to positively affect the readiness of our children by hosting neighborhood block parties and their Learning Circle program, partnered with local churches, government agencies and local police departments to build relationships of community trust.

In cooperation with Dorchester County Public Schools and local churches, Anchor Point enrolls pre-school children in their Learning Circles school readiness program. It is designed to increase school readiness for Pre-K and Kindergarten students. The program enhances learning using arts and crafts, story books, hands-on group activities and play time. In this way, new students are prepared for their first day of school.

Anchor Point provides all the teaching staff, learning materials, books, arts and craft supplies, supplemental food bags for the families hunger challenges, school clothes and shoes, book bags and supplies. Parents attend with children so that they also get to know what the learning process entails, and how they can be a positive influence with their children’s learning.

“Our program is designed to help parents as well,” said Alan McRae, director of Anchor Point, “to train them to understand they are their child’s first and best teacher. Then we provide education mentors to follow those students throughout their school career, to help them with homework — help them with anything they need help with to achieve success.”

There has been one Learning Circle session so far, hosted by Waugh Chapel, where four families participated through the program. Joiceann, Jeremiah, Anariya, and Ronte took classes and learned all about what was coming up when they started school. On the final day of the class, the kids and their moms received diplomas and enjoyed a lunch of pizza and chicken provided by Anchor Point.

Learning Circle uses learning parties, the Ready at 5 curriculum, the Raising a Reader curriculum, and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program. The program hosts Learning Circles three times a week, and pair them with home visits and supplemental food donations to help the families be sure that their food security issues are stable.

“We have some other sites in town ready to hold our Learning Circle programs, including the two police substations, on Pine Street and Greenwood Avenue,” said Mr. McRae. “With our recent students graduating the school readiness program, we’re now getting ready to look at a year-round curriculum where we can provide school support for the children before they start school, and then provide homework help after school.”

Mr. McRae obviously enjoys providing the learning opportunities for local kids, and joins in with the graduation pizza party with the program’s first four graduates. “It’s a wonderful feeling,” he says, “because you see a change both in the children and the parents, in the way they understand that education is the key to success in life for the children.”

Interested parents can call Hope Lee at 443-515-7446 for the locations and times for the upcoming Learning Parties, or for more Learning Circle information.

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