Kean University's Jumpstart program has been thriving this year under the supervision of Senior Site Manager Gina Miseo.
Jumpstart is a early education organization that serves the population of preschool children in low-income neighborhoods. College students are recruited and trained to participate in the program.
The Kean University website says: "Our proven curriculum helps children develop the language and literacy skills they need to be ready for kindergarten, setting them on a path to close the achievement gap before it is too late."
Jumpstart at Kean reached a major milestone through recruiting 60 new members this year alone, making it the first year the program has doubled in size.
"We became a 'super site' this year, recruiting 80 AmeriCorps members, who make up about 12 teams, versus other sites who average about 42 members and six to seven teams," Miseo said.
Along with recruiting Jumpstart members, 100 additional Kean students served as one-time volunteers participating in the program's many events hosted throughout the year.
Jumpstart hosted a variety of events including Read for the Record, which is an annual national campaign to break the world reading record.
There was also a Thanksgiving family event.
"Our partner children at Head Start Roselle got to follow recipes with their families and make their very own no-bake pumpkin pie," Miseo said.
Jumpstart also partnered with Bernice's Place to collaborate on hosting events. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event involved reading stories about the well-known figure. The event also included supporting children who were working on writing activities based on the iconic figures history.
Bernice's Place also partnered with Jumpstart for Read Across America Day, which is held on Dr. Suess's birthday. At the event, children celebrated reading and books while creating their own bookmarks.
"We also have frequent materials creation tables/events on campus for students to create learning materials for our partner children," Miseo added.
One of these tabling events took place at Kean Dance Marathon. The Jumpstart team provided shapes and color bingo sheets for students to color while taking a break from dancing. The coloring sheets will be used for the end of the year party for the 180 children Kean's Jumpstart program interacts with on a yearly basis.
"Children, families and the community in the Elizabeth area benefit from these literacy events, where we usually have learning activities for them to take home and helpful hints for the families to participate in children's learning at home," Miseo said.
She added that Kean students also benefit from being involved in these events through volunteering, which gives them the opportunity to become involved and make a difference in the neighboring communities of Kean University.
"During the next school year, I hope to continue building more strong relationships and partnerships with Kean students, faculty and staff and in the community, with educators and organizations," Miseo said.
In March Jumpstart had a little fun by hosting a talent show for students to take part in and be entertained by in Cougar's Den.
For the future, the Jumpstart program plans to continue increasing its impact on the community through reaching more children and their families, as well has continuing to help organizations within the local community.
For those interested in becoming a part of Jumpstart, applications are being accepted now for the fall 2017 semester.
Jumpstart Corps Members serve the program part-time between eight and 10 hours a week during the regular school year. As per the Kean University website, members are involved in the following:
- Jumpstart sessions with team and partner children
- Team planning meetings, which include planning and reflection
- Communicating with partner child's family and sharing strategies for extending learning
- Participating in intensive pre-service and on-going training's
- Attending periodic service days, often held on weekends
For more information about the Jumpstart program, visit the Kean University website and search "Jumpstart."
Join a program that is continuing to grow and making an impact on the local community on a yearly basis.