These Are My Girls

April 03, 2018 | Catherine Knuckles

These are my girls. Their picture hangs in my office. I don’t know their names, but in 2013 they stole my heart.

You can see the joy in their faces. They are showing off their books from a book fair New Charlotte sponsored for Greenway Park Elementary in the spring of 2013.

They asked, “Can we take them home?” and “Can we keep these?” Yes and yes.

New Charlotte has been partnering with Greenway Park since early 2012. We came to the table with one simple question: “How can we help?” Together, we’ve experienced the power of community and created an environment of inspiration and hope for teachers, students and our congregation.

This year, New Charlotte is hosting another book fair through a project called Summer Scholars. We are collecting and purchasing enough books for each student at Greenway Park and Idlewild Elementary to take home 5 books to read over the summer.

It’s the most important project we’ve introduced in a long time. Hoodies are fun and the students were thrilled to get them, but kids grow fast and their sweatshirts probably won’t still fit in the fall.

When I approached Greenway Park about the Summer Scholars project, they were delighted. The school hasn’t had a book fair in a couple of years. The reason: students didn’t have the money.

No books going home.

I’m mad at myself for not realizing it and making this project happen sooner.

These books will help prevent what educators call “the summer slide.” On average, students lose 2 months of reading progress if they don’t read over the summer. If they have 5 books to read, they won’t lose the progress that’s been made during the school year and can actually gain 1.5 months of proficiency.

Studies indicate that students reading on grade level by the third grade have a 96% chance of graduating high school on time.

Having books at home encourages family reading time. Students are more likely have parents read to them. And students are able share books with their siblings.

All of these practices move the needle on reading proficiency.

Once I realized how much this picture meant to me, I went to the school to find out about the girls. I learned they had already moved on to middle school. They are now in high school. Even though I can’t call them by name, I still wonder:

Do they read on grade level?
Are they going to graduate high school on time?

I’m praying for them, cheering them on, hoping for the best.

Learn more about the Summer Scholars project here.

Catherine Knuckles is Serve Director at New Charlotte and loves to talk about how the church can have an impact in the community. She is married to David, and has 3 grown children, Meredith, Lindsay and David.