Council invited to visit summer reading program

Theresa Stafford

CAMBRIDGE — Members of the Dorchester County Council were invited to visit New Beginnings Youth and Family Services to see for themselves the work being done there for local children. Executive Director Theresa Stafford extended the invitation during the council’s meeting on June 2.

She said her group is a non-profit organization that provides after-school programs “for you who live in what we call the projects around here, on Greenwood Avenue.” Ms. Stafford is a veteran of 37 years in public education.

“I recently made a request for some funding from you for my summer program, and was told it wasn’t funded in your budget,” she said to the council members. “Maybe part of that was my fault, because I didn’t give you enough information.”

She then invited each council member to visit the program at 522 Greenwood Ave., and observe the children in their classes. “This year, we’re going to focus on reading comprehension,” she said.

That initiative was fueled in part by information Ms. Stafford received days ago from the public schools. “I was really upset about what came to us,” she said.

The data showed that 80 percent of the children at Choptank Elementary and Sandy Hill Elementary schools were reading below grade level. “Those are the kids that we serve,” she said, adding that the summer program is intended to help the children retain what they learned during the school year.

New Beginnings has proven popular. “I budgeted for 35 kids,” Ms. Stafford said. “As of today, we have 58.”

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