Kids at a daycare center in Laurelton, Queens last Thursday were given the extraordinary opportunity of being read to by officials from the Long Is. Branch of the National Association of University Women (NAUW).
Melinda Cashwell-Edwards, NAUW’s Long Island Branch president, and Laura Spencer, branch chaplain and co-chair of the Literacy Committee, read to 17 kids, whose ages range from one to six years, at Nicky’s Little Sprouts D.C. Inc., owned and operated by Guyanese Shaundell Agrippa.
Six children from the nearby Jeremy’s Place Daycare, owned and operated by Agrippa’s mother, Paulette Hyman, also attended the reading session.
“We wanted to continue our service in education with reading to as many children as possible,” Edwards, of Cuban descent, told Caribbean Life, adding that, simultaneously, other branch members read to children in six classrooms at Northern Parkway School in Uniondale, Long Island.
Cashwell-Edwards and Spencer, an African American, read from the book, “The Bear Ate My Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach.”
Cashwell-Edwards said that since Agrippa, is also a member of the Long Island Branch, “our branch wanted to give back on the yearly event of ‘Jumpstart to Read.’”
Three children, four-years-old, at Nicky’s Little Sprouts D.C., Inc. also read to the NAUW officials.
Cashwell-Edwards said it was the first time that the branch read to children at Nicky’s Little Sprouts D.C., Inc., stating that members will continue doing so “on an annual basis and be involved with other events.”
She said she was “blown away” by the reading ability of the kids at Nicky’s Little Sprouts D.C. Inc. “and will love to come back, time to time, to assist with projects, etc.”
Cashwell-Edwards said that she loves reading to children, disclosing that she also reads to her son, who is almost three years old. This is the fifth year that NAUW’s Long Island Branch has been involved with “Jumpstart to Read, where we read to children,” the branch president said.
“I’m excited and always look forward to reading to the children,” Spencer chimed in.
Agrippa, who is also the center’s director, said the children were “all engaged as they listened quietly while Cashwell-Edwards read to them.
“She asked questions in between the reading, and the children responded appropriately to the questions,” she said. “I was pleased and grateful that NAUW took the time out to promote and participate in reading to our children. Reading is fundamental it opens an avenue in which children can learn.”
“I felt proud because reading is one of my passion, especially for children,” Ms. Agrippa added. “Reading is the gateway for children to form ideas and make them good communicators. It also helps to prepare them to excel in school.
“The readers were very animated, bringing the stories to life to my children,” she continued.
The teachers at Nicky’s Little Sprouts D.C. Inc. were also delighted with the children’s reading ability.
“These children have come a long way,” said Allison Lynch, who has been teaching at the center for over five years.
Agrippa said Lynch and the other teachers “have worked tirelessly with our children; and, for that, I commend all of them immensely for the magnificent job they do every day.”
All were treated to a sumptuous reception at the reading’s end, Agrippa said.
In support of the National Strategic Plan, NAUW’s Long Island Branch says that it engages in initiatives that support education, health and civic activities, as well as networking and cooperating with other community organizations, to produce health fairs, forums, black history events, tutorial and reading programs.
The branch said, however, that its main thrust is in the area of education at all levels, preschool to college.
“The Long Island Branch is very proud of the many years of committed service to our neighborhood schools and the significant monetary scholarships that have been awarded to college freshmen since its existence, as well as its contributions to the Northeast Sectional Scholarship for Master’s Degree candidates,” said the branch in a statement.
Locally, the branch recently re-established its relationship with P.S. 147 in Cambria Heights, Queens, with the Project Styles Mentoring Program.