By Stephen Baack, USAG Ansbach Public Affairs
ANSBACH, Germany (April 1, 2016) – U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach children are poised to reap the educational benefits of a $25,000 literacy grant that Installation Management Command has awarded to USAG Ansbach Child, Youth and School Services.
In late January, IMCOM challenged CYSS sites Army-wide to each deliver a plan to increase children’s love for reading and, by extension, their reading skills. IMCOM received 31 submissions. Fifteen of these were granted to installations in Europe – including Ansbach.
Pamela Storm, USAG Ansbach School Age Center director, took on the challenge and drew up a proposal.
“I enjoy teaching literacy to children, and I think it’s a huge part of our everyday lives,” said Storm, who heard the good news March 9. “It can make such an impact on our kids. So, I thought, ‘Why not write a proposal and see what our chances are?’ When we actually got the funds, I was really excited because now we can share that with the Families and the children here.”
The proposal covers a two-year span starting this September and affects children from six weeks old to 11 years old. This also covers a population of more than 80 children in the School Age Center and Child Development Center, along with between 15 and 20 more who are part of the home school program. Storm said she also hopes to include Ansbach Elementary School and the library in the literacy program.
Per the proposal, faculty at the Katterbach CDC and SAC complex will choose an assortment of books to share with the children throughout the two-year period. Each of the rooms at the Katterbach SAC/CDC complex will showcase a different book based on the children’s developmental stage.
Teachers will introduce the book to children in week one, focusing on reading and comprehension. The second week will cover hands-on activities during which children will be able to relate the subject matter with tangible objects. In the third week, children will be encouraged to bring the book home with them to share with their parents and Families, reading together and doing hands-on learning activities based on the book.
“Maybe if the book is about shapes, they could have a shape game in the bag with the book, so the parent would read, and then they would do a shape game together – so it would build that connection with literacy as well in the community,” said Storm.
Week 4 would be a culminating week, during which children would bring out the book in class and express their experiences and what they learned in the previous weeks. Depending on developmental level, the child might also do a project based on their book.
“So, if the book was on shapes, maybe they would do a show and tell where the child could bring in something that was round, or they could share a picture of their family members and themselves doing a game – or something similar – to bring it all together,” said Storm.
Storm said the funds would go toward supplies, giveaways and possible field trips.
“If we have a book about science, maybe we’ll take a trip to the planetarium,” said Storm. “If there’s a book about a castle, maybe we’ll take the children to a castle. I also put in funds for giveaways, or book giveaways. So, maybe if we reach our goal – or maybe just to encourage the reading – we’ll give some things away.”
The overall goal of the proposal, Storm said, is to “help build the love of reading for the children to gain comprehension skills, as well as having fun and knowing that reading can be fun – that you can do fun things with reading.”
Dan Riley, who leads the USAG Ansbach Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, compares developing one’s literacy with developing one’s fitness level – something the military community may relate to.
“We understand the importance of building physical strength and endurance in leading rich and healthy lives, but the value of building literacy is no less significant,” said Riley. “The fundamental elements of literacy, becoming adept at reading and writing, are skills that will take a young person far on the journey to becoming a capable and accomplished adult.”