Math Bootcamp scores in East Winston

Nearly 50 children participated in the Math Bootcamp this summer.

Math Bootcamp scores in East Winston
August 15
02:10 2019

“I used to hate math, but now I love it!” “I wish you could stay with me all day!”

These comments reflect the feelings of many of the participants of the Road to Equity Network of East Winston (RENEW) 2019 Math Bootcamp. The summer math program, the brainchild of Winston-Salem State University accounting professor Dr. Lynette Wood and her husband Don, provided high-energy, interactive exploration of math concepts in line with common core standards. 

From June 20 to July 25, almost 50 children at the W. R. Anderson Center, the 14th Street Community Center and Ephesus Junior Academy benefited from one-hour sessions three days a week. Bootcamp participants worked in small groups with the program directors and volunteer “skill sergeants” who used math games, worksheets, and base 10 blocks to drill down on a variety of math topics. 

Research shows that students typically lose 2.9 months of math knowledge each summer, making advancement in the fall difficult. Professor Wood states that, “Closing the achievement gap for children of color has to start with building strong skills in a positive, relational way. We wanted the children to advance during the summer, not regress.” As co-founder of RENEW, she decided to use her skills, vacation time, and resources to support efforts in the community to build equity for East Winston’s youth. (RENEW’s mission is to empower young people with the tools to escape a future of poverty and incarceration.)

Area recreation centers proved to be powerful partners on the road to equity. Bryant McCorkle, director of the W. R. Anderson Recreation Center, enthusiastically opened his center to the Bootcamp by incorporating it into the center’s summer camp program—and with strong results. “The Math Bootcamp was needed here at the W. R. Anderson Center to give the kids a chance to work on their basic skills in math before they go back to school. I would love to have the Math Bootcamp back anytime; great program, great professors,” stated McCorkle. On the last day of the Bootcamp, Wood and her husband planned a small ceremony for the participants and the volunteer staff, but McCorkle had another idea. The Math Bootcamp children, wearing their camouflage Bootcamp T-shirts, marched triumphantly into the center’s gymnasium to rousing applause and cheers from the rest of the summer camp members. Each child was cheered for upon receiving a colorful participation certificate.

The rewards were not just for the children. The staff was refreshed and excited as well. Betty Wallace, the recreation leader at the W. R. Anderson Center summer camp stated, “I think this was a wonderful opportunity for the kids. It helped them to enhance their skills. When they get back to the regular school year, they will not have forgotten what they learned from the previous year. I think the staff had a very good rapport with the students. The students were often excited when it was time to go to the Math Bootcamp, and it was a really great asset to our program here!” She also noted that some children would continue their Bootcamp learning activities during their free time.

Belinda Hardy, another staff member, added, “I was glad the team came in because very few girls get the concept of math. The camp had some ladies in there, and that was really nice. It was really helpful to have that program done here.”

Buddy Hayes, also a member of the Anderson staff, reported, “Math Bootcamp was one of the best ideas that could have come about. … I think it’s a great program, and it should be replicated throughout the city.” 

At the 14th Street Recreation Center, after a few sessions, Dr. Leslie Straker assumed the leadership of the program so that the Wood team could focus on the other two locations. He used his skills as a science and math educator to create a meaningful learning experience for children whose math knowledge varied widely.

Dr. Wood is ready to move to the next level with the program. Plans are being made to launch a Math Club at the Anderson Recreation Center during the school year. In addition, there have been requests for math training for adults. She sums up her summer this way: “It was great to help children strengthen their math foundation, and I enjoyed making many new friends. It was a wonderful way to spend my summer vacation!”

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