By Tre Mastran
The Student Government Association at Youngstown State University has recently initiated a reading program for students at South Side Academy in Youngstown.
SGA has organized a program in which its members travel to South Side Academy and read to students. SGA President, Rayann Atway, briefly explained the program.
“We’re going on Tuesdays and Fridays,” Atway said. “We’re going to be taking three students each day to go read to students in third through sixth grade.”
YSU’s Provost Dr. Martin Abraham expressed his approval of the initiative and the prospect of the positive outcomes it may provide.
“We believe strongly in the community engagement mission of YSU,” Abraham said. “This effort on the part of SGA is an excellent example of how our students are engaged within the community and the value that they can provide. This can be an enjoyable and beneficial experience for all participants, from both YSU and from Southside Academy.”
Abraham also said the university possesses an abundance of resources to assist the SGA volunteers in implementing this program.
“The CRC in Beeghly Hall has excellent reading materials for the all ages that our students can bring with them, if needed. The college also offers open workshops on literacy tutoring, which could help the SGA volunteers improve their skills in literacy instruction,” Abraham said.
The university provost did not hide his enthusiasm for the SGA-sponsored effort.
“This seems to be an exciting initiative on the part of SGA, and I fully support their efforts to work with Southside Academy to increase the reading skills of their students.”
Located on Oak Hill Ave. on the south side of Youngstown, South Side Academy aims to provide a supportive learning environment to its 168 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The school, which emphasizes a curriculum of social responsibility with self, others and the community, also sees the reading program as beneficial for students.
Stephanie Groscost, the principal at South Side Academy, acknowledged the importance of the new initiative to her students.
“It’s really nice for them to get to see outsiders – community organizations, especially from the university,” Groscost said. “They don’t have a lot of connection to university students.”
Groscost, a veteran educator with 19 years at South Side Academy, sees a positive new element in university students reading at her school.
“They’re interacting with the students on a different level than the teachers do,” Groscost said. “Although they’re hitting important things from the novels with them, it’s not a complete focus on just true academics and academic skills that the teachers are trying to pull out of them. So, they’re getting it from a different point of view through the YSU students.”
The school principal said this perspective provided by SGA members could change the way South Side Academy students view reading.
“I’m hoping that it enlightens them and raises their interest in reading in a different way,” Groscost said. “Teachers – it is their job to make them read, but when they’re interacting with college students, it’s hopefully bringing out more joy in it.”