YMCA’s Summer Reading Program Delivers Big Results Despite Current Pandemic

Despite the health pandemic, Haverhill School Committee members learned last week, the YMCA’s summer reading program scored some of the best results in its history. Tracy Fuller, regional executive director of the Haverhill and Plaistow YMCAs talked about the challenges of putting on the program in the era of COVID-19. “Through many conversations of how can we do this safely, how can we launch this program. So, we offered the program this year at Haverhill High School and then we hired four additional teachers to go to our summer camps because, this year more than ever, kids needed summer camp this summer. So, we had a group of eight teachers total that helped support our students this summer,” she said.

Haverhill Promise Launches Citywide Reading Challenge; Prizes to be Awarded

Haverhill Promise, the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, has launched a citywide Reading Challenge for Haverhill Students to help encourage daily reading throughout the COVID-19 learning disruption. Starting this week, students in pre-K-12 who attend any school or preschool program in Haverhill are asked to begin tracking their daily reading time and posting about their reading on social media. Since students of all ages are invited to participate, and interests may vary, the focus is less about the quantity of books being read, and more about the amount of time spent reading, according to a statement from Jenny Arndt, campaign director. The U.S. Department of Education recommends that students read aloud for at least 20 minutes each day during long breaks from school to keep learning and sharpening their reading skills. Economically disadvantaged students are especially at risk for losing valuable progress in their reading achievement when school is not in session.

Haverhill Promise Promotes Early Literacy, Civics With ‘Book Election’

The adult voters of Haverhill have spoken to elect a new Mayor, City Council and School Committee—and as it turns out, the children of Haverhill Public Schools have sounded off, too. As part of Haverhill Promise’s first-ever “book election,” first-, second- and third-graders across the city exercised their civic duty and cast ballots for one of three books chosen by Haverhill Public Library staff to encourage early literacy. Haverhill Promise plans to give each child in grades 1-3 a book to take home at the end of this month, and to coincide with the election, the group decided to let the students vote as a class on which book they’d receive. First graders could choose from books by Mo Willems, Tedd Arnold or Dav Pilkey, while a National Geographic book about cats and dogs was among the picks for second grade students. Third graders had a chance to pit Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid’s “Rodrick Rules” against “Judy Moody and Stink” and “Geronimo Stilton” stories.

Haverhill Promise Hosting Early Literacy ‘Huddle’ Aug. 21 at Downtown iHub

Listen to the full interview below. Haverhill Promise is getting ready to huddle up for early literacy—and want the community to join in! Jenny Arndt, the group’s new campaign director, joined WHAV’s last week to share more about the event happening next Wednesday, Aug. 21 at the downtown UMass iHub. At the free event, Arndt and other Haverhill Promise stakeholders—including state Rep. Andy Vargas and Haverhill Public Schools physician Dr. John Maddox—plan to launch a new social media campaign encouraging locals to “make a promise to support grade level reading” in Haverhill.

Free Children’s Vision Screening Certification Program Takes Place in Haverhill July 18

Haverhill Promise, in conjunction with Haverhill Public Schools, is hosting a free children’s vision screening course for educators, nurses, parental volunteers, and anyone who work with children ages 3-5. The Thursday, July 18 course, sponsored by Children’s Vision Massachusetts and the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health, along with Prevent Blindness, takes place at the Haverhill Public Library’s auditorium from 1-5 p.m.

Participants receive a certification upon completion of the course and all training materials, resources, technical assistance, and support is provided free of charge. For more information, call Shanyn at 978-420-1919.

Arndt Departs Creative Haverhill for City Literacy Initiative Haverhill Promise

Haverhill’s Jenny Arndt is on the move! After five years at Creative Haverhill, Arndt has accepted a new role as campaign director for Haverhill Promise, the city’s 18-month-old effort to get schoolchildren reading at or above grade level by the end of third grade. As Arndt tells WHAV, she’s most excited to motivate students and families to seek creative solutions to narrow the city’s achievement gap. “We lean a lot on the teachers and the parents to raise our city’s future leaders, but what I’m learning through the work of Haverhill Promise is that it is going to take a village—or a city of 60,000 in our case—to identify the issues, seek creative solutions, and motivate these students to live up to their potential,” Arndt said. “Up to now, my work in the city of Haverhill has been about enriching lives through art and experiences.

Rocks Village Residents Start New “Little Free Library” in Haverhill

Good news for bookworms! The Rocks Village Memorial Association has begun a Little Free Library outside the historic local fire and meeting house, the Hand Tub House. The project was brought to life by association members Jessica Todd, a Haverhill elementary school teacher, and her husband Alden Young, who constructed the library as a miniature replica of the Hand Tub House. They were aided in the effort by neighbors Heather McMann, a past board member and clerk of the Rocks Village Memorial Association and Association Vice President Lydia Harris, among others. Todd shared her excitement for the new library, telling WHAV it will “be a great vehicle to help push Haverhill’s reading initiative forward.” The library is currently stocked with books the Bartlett educator has gathered from her years in the classroom.