By Chrissy Howard, Manager of Reading Success by 4th Grade,
Jennifer Teehan-Sanford, Project Manager of Home City Families,
and Jenny Powers, Family Engagement Coordinator at the Springfield Museums
Jennifer Teehan-Sanford, Project Manager at Home City Families
Home City Families, the Springfield Coordinated Family and Community Engagement grant funded by the Department of Early Education and Care, offers a network of information, support and programming for families in Springfield. We provide free parent workshops, parent/child playgroups and family literacy activities throughout the city. Home City Families also provides information and referrals to connect families to Early Childhood Education programs and services.
Jenny Powers, Family Engagement Coordinator at The Springfield Museums
Located in the heart of downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, the Springfield Museums offer access to five world-class museums, including the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum and the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden.
The work of improving literacy for kids across the city is not the work of one person. In my first month of this position, I learned so much about the talent and efforts of so many people who want to work with the city, schools, and organizations to impact change. Together, we are working to battle generational poverty by ensuring all of Springfield’s kids have every economic opportunity to succeed in life. This can be done when kids can successfully graduate high school with excellent preparation for college, career, and active citizenship. One of the biggest indicators of this future success is being able to read on grade level by the end of third grade. This is where Reading Success by 4th Grade works to bring the community together around this goal, but we cannot do this alone. As a model for partnership, Home City Families and Springfield Museums have come together on multiple occasions to partner on early literacy and family initiatives. Below, I talk with Jenny Powers and Jennifer Teehan-Sanford on the value of partnerships.
Jenny Powers: Partnering with Home City Families is a pleasure! The staff is very friendly and responsive and it’s easy to make plans together. They offer us a chance to get out to different areas of our community and interact with new families. It’s also a great chance to observe their work and learn new, effective ways to engage with children. We’ve been able to grow our audience and improve our programs through this partnership, which are two of our goals that are much more challenging when going alone.
Jennifer Teehan-Sanford: Partnering with the Springfield Museums allowed us to bring a new experience to families attending our playgroups. We are able to enhance our programming by bringing in outside presenters to connect with families in a structured setting. We are also able to extend our curriculum and the Museums are able to provide resources that would otherwise not be available to us. For example, the Springfield Museums have access to insects and reptiles that are brought to our groups to connect stories to live creatures!
Improving Reading Outcomes
Jennifer Teehan-Sanford: One program in which we collaborated with Jenny and the Springfield Museums was through a series which was centered around Speedy the Turtle. Jenny visited playgroup to read a story and returned the next week with Speedy the Turtle for the families to see. The final visit was a group meeting at the Springfield Museums to see Speedy in his home! The children were able to make the connection between Jenny and the museum and their experiences within playgroup. Some of our young children were quite amused at the fact that the turtle was named Speedy and were quick to point out to Jenny that the turtle was in fact not speedy!
We have had Jenny come several times to our playgroups and bring something from the museum. We will typically connect our story selection and activities to what she is sharing with families. The children have made a connection with Jenny and the museums through her participation in the groups. These experiences enhance our groups and introduce families to other resources in the community. One of our families even when out and purchased hissing cockroaches for an at home pet after Jenny introduced them to us at a playgroup. Children are very interested in learning and asking questions about things Jenny has shared.
Home City Families is open to partnering with the community to bring outside presenters and special guests to playgroups to enhance what we offer families. We want to bring resources from our community to families allowing them to expose their children to all the wonderful things our city has to offer! To learn more, visit www.homecityfamilies.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 787-6959 x8.
Springfield Museums is open to partnering on projects that serve our local and regional communities. We look for partners that help us to engage with more children and families or enrich activities for our current audiences. To learn more, visit springfieldmuseums.org or email email@example.com.