Every student age agroup represented at Jumpstart Program

Leslie D. Rose @DvilleNewsie
Juanita Pearley introduces the Jumpstart Program to youth and parents. Staff photos by Leslie D. Rose .

In current standing, Ascension Parish Schools as a whole rank number three in the state, but Donaldsonville schools fall in the lower portion of the overall ranking, averaging C and D grades.

That’s where the innagural Back to School Jumpstart Program, spearheaded by Ascension Parish School Board member Robyn Penn Delaney (District #1), comes into play.

Hoping to refresh the minds of Donaldsonville students, five sites hosted the program over the span of two weeks. Volunteers instructed students, grades kindergarten through twelfth, using materials obtained from the Ascension Parish School Board.

The sites included Mt. Triumph, Buena Vista, St. Phillip, Mt. Salem and Emmanuel Baptist churches.

Over at the Emmanuel Baptist Church, hosted by the Rev. Charles Brown, Sr., Rose Worley was the first to arrive with her 12-year-old son.

She said her son isn’t a big fan of reading or community building, so it is her hope that the program will help him to met new people, and maybe even begin to enjoy reading.

“As soon as I heard about this program, I thought – this is what I need,” Worley said. “I try to get any kind of help with him that I can get. It’s going to be an adjustment when he gets back to school – he didn’t pick up not one book the whole summer.”

Worley said she hopes that by her son attending the program, he will get back to reading before he enters a classroom on Aug. 10, having at least touched up his comprehension skills a bit.

“His grades are good – he’s an average student, but if he applies himself he could be an A student. It’s a challenge to get him to apply himself – I know he can do better.”

Worley’s son attends St. Elizabeth in Assumption Parish, but lives in Donaldsonville. She said the he has never really been around children other than his classmates.

“I’m hoping that being here in this environment and seeing other kids from different communities will encourage him to want to do better,” Worley said. “I also hope it shows him that reading is important.”

Site coordinator Juanita Pearley – church secretary and executive director of the Donaldsonville Area Chamber of Commerce – said emphasis would indeed be placed on reading, speaking too.

Remarking to a parent how appalled she had been once, upon hearing the way some teachers speak or allow the students to speak, Pearley said she intends to ensure that the students at her site leave with at least the understanding that words shouldn’t always be writen in the vernacular that is sometimes accepted in speaking.

“I just want to be able to help the children in any way possible,” Pearley said. “Bring them this free information and help to understand that it is not just them – it is everyone around them also.

I hope the children will ask questions because sometimes they are afraid to ask questions, and they need that one-on-one individual teaching and explaining for them to get it – hopefully this can do it for them.”

The five site summer camp style program for children in all grades, receieved generous support from the Ascension Parish School Board, by way of curriculum and resource materials. Standard curriculm included reading, math and handwriting.

Students were permitted to retain the school board provided materials at the program’s end.

Other instructors included Darrell Marquette – pastor of Word of Life Church, Donaldsonville and PE/health teacher at Donaldsonville High School; and Loretta Bolding – Dept. of Agriculture retired administrative staffer.

The Emmanuel and Mt. Salem Baptist churches hosted the program through July 31.