Deer Creek Summer Writing Camp
Jessica Easley wants her students to know that when they’re expressing themselves through writing, there’s no way to go wrong.
“Seeing these students fall in love with writing and grow as writers is what I enjoy most,” said Easley. “I enjoy the moment when I see them realize they are writers.”
Easley was talking about the University of Mississippi Writing Project – a two-week instruction program in Hollandale and Leland sponsored by the Delta Health Alliance (DHA) with the goal of improving both the teachers’ practice of writing and student writing achievement for 3rdthrough 5thgraders.
Akeria Wright, 9 of Leland said the program is making her a better writer.
“I love to write and to learn new and big words,” said Akeria.
As part of the program, students read a biography and then wrote five facts by picking one letter from the alphabet. Akeria chose the letter “m” and wrote five facts she learned about the poet Maya Angelou.
The writing camp has two primary components, said Katelyn Ables, a DHA project director. First, to build an interest in writing among the students. Second, to build an interest among Hollandale and Leland classroom teachers to teach writing.
“We want these students to come away with a new appreciation for writing that they can take with him into the new school year and beyond,” said Ables. “And we want these teachers to gain the insights that are important in showing these students the importance of writing and writing well.”
Two University of Mississippi writing instructors were assigned to each camp, along with college and high school interns who assisted in the project. The camp also included teacher debriefings that focused on the lessons for the day as a model for incorporation into the academic year.
“I had so much fun!” said Akeria. “Every day we learned something new and now I’m a better writer.”
The writing camps were part of four summer camps offered by DHA through its Deer Creek Promise Community. The other camps were:
- Summer Youth Entrepreneurship Project. Focused on workforce development, the six-week program provided African-American males between 12-19 with the business vocabulary and practical work experience to enhance their entrepreneurial skills and develop work ethics required to be successful in today’s business world. The camp was operated by Delta State University.
- The Educational Development Learning Program. Hosted by the Arcola Learning Center, the six-week camp allowed students to participate in an online reading program. Campers attended weekly online classes with a teacher, and classroom of students for face-to-face classes.
- Leland Summer Enrichment Camp. Operated by DHA and the Leland School District, the six-week camp for rising 1st-6thgrade students provided summer enrichment programs from Leland schools staff, DHA staff and college interns. Campers spent mornings receiving academic support in English, reading and math. After lunch, students participated in extracurricular activities led by community members, college and high school interns. The University of Mississippi Writing Project was incorporated into the camp.
- Hollandale School District Summer Enrichment Camp. Operated by DHA and Hollandale schools, the camp served students to support academic, social and extracurricular enrichment. Students received a healthy breakfast and lunch, and received a head start on next year’s academic success. The University of Mississippi Writing Project was incorporated into the camp.