Club Staff at Remote Learning Centers Fill In Literacy Gaps
This fall, when Chicago Public Schools moved all instruction online, the Gantz Club opened during school hours as a Remote Learning Center. The program supports members who need a safe space, reliable internet connectivity, and mentors to help navigate the nuances of remote learning. But that's just the basics, as Gantz Club Director Marco DeLaRosa proved.
Early in the school year, Gantz Club Director Marco DeLaRosa noticed some young members struggled to read. Using a program called BookNook, DeLaRosa confirmed several children in kindergarten through third grade were scoring below grade level.
"It's important for children to have a strong reading background since that is the basis of learning," he said on the Club's efforts to boost literacy. "Reading affects their education in math, in science, and in social studies. So if they don't have those basic reading skills, it's hard for them to engage."
DeLaRosa and his team put together a program to help these struggling young readers. With the help of Nuala McSweeney, BGCC Literacy Specialist, kids have made progress over the first quarter of school.
This was just the most recent milestone in the Gantz Club's road to championing literacy. Another pivotal moment was last year when it opened the first "Reach for a Book" reading zone, an initiative in partnership with Chicago Bears' wide receiver Allen Robinson. And its outcome – a fun, welcoming learning zone stocked full of age-appropriate books – has clearly made an impression with children and teens. This summer, over 50 Gantz Club members read for over 500 hours! As DeLaRosa very proudly and deservedly boasted, that broke down to about 45 minutes of reading per child for each day of the eight-week program.
"When we're talking about having a well-rounded citizen, of having youth reach their full potential, it's hard to really navigate that without those basic reading skills," said DeLaRosa.