Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Kids Explore Grand Rapids Public Library and Learn about their Neighborhood

This past Friday proved to be another excellent excursion for our kids!  Both the Cook Arts Center and Cook Library Center visited the Grand Rapids Public Library’s main branch where they had the chance to read and use the computers, eat a fabulous picnic lunch in Veteran’s Memorial Park and even receive a tour of the Grand Rapids archives.  Tim Gleisner, Grand Rapids Public Library Archivist/Historian, gave them a fascinating tour of some of the historic parts of the library; maps, old photos and even an old fashioned film helped educate everyone on how completely different the Grandville Avenue neighborhood looked during the early 1900s! Wow!

After the tour, Mr. Tim helped students look up their homes in the "house archives" which hold old photographs and history on most of the houses that are built in Grand Rapids.  They saw maps, photos, old letters - they even got to go inside the special cooler area where very old documents are kept from disintegrating.  All in all, a great day and an awesome opportunity for our kids to see how their neighborhood has grown, changed and diversified over the decades!

Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities administers the programs of the Cook Arts Center and the Cook Library Center.                      

Friday, July 13, 2012

Farewell, Dear Ashley!

As many of you know from first-hand experience, any non-profit organization’s mission is made possible by the hard work of its staff and volunteers—especially its volunteers. Just think back to all of the last-minute decorations that needed hanging before an event, or the seemingly endless amount of pencils that needed sharpening before programming. Without the help of those individuals who ensured that all of those last-minute details were taken care of, I know that we especially would be driven insane with work overload! For that reason we would like to extend a very bitter-sweet thank you and farewell to a volunteer that has left a tremendous impact on us, our kids and the Grandville Avenue neighborhood.

Ashely Curry is an undergraduate student at the University of Notre Dame who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English. After seeing her interact so wonderfully with the kids both at the Cook Arts Center and at the Cook Library Center, it was no surprise when she told us that her dream was to teach English courses to high school students. But what’s even more fitting than her natural ability with kids is her passion to serve the community that she’s a part of. Ashley was with us at both GAAH locations this summer interning through one of Notre Dame’s programs called the Summer Service Learning Project (SSIP). Through this program’s commitment to community engagement and social conscience, Ashely was able to actively serve the community in a city of her choice. We couldn’t be happier that she chose Grand Rapids, MI!

Ashley’s roles at both GAAH sites were as innumerable as they were invaluable to both GAAH and the Grandville Avenue neighborhood. She especially enjoyed reading and playing games with the kids at the CLC after their summer program started up. As she playfully put it - “I was like an overgrown child reading and playing with them.” So many of our kids need someone like Ashley to play with them, listen to them and learn with them; to make their childhood memorable and to make sure that they stay children for as long as possible.

We thank you, Ashley, for your incredible service to GAAH this summer and wish you the very best on your journey! Grandville Avenue will miss you!

Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities administers the programs of the Cook Arts Center and the Cook Library Center.

Summer Program 2012 Kick-Off!

Our summer programs are off to a GREAT start!  Both programs will be focusing on a variety areas from reading, writing, gardening, art, music to theater.  Our goal is for our kids to improve their reading and writing skills while exploring and developing other interests in the arts and humanities.  Through an assortment of fun and educational Friday fieldtrips, we also hope to expose kids to such Grand Rapids treasures as the Grand Rapids Public Library, the Children’s Museum and more!

While the mission of both the Cook Arts Center and Cook Library Center may be the same, the programs at each location are a little bit different.  At the Cook Library Center for example, the principal academic focus is reading.  Kids enrolled there come in every afternoon Monday-Thursday and read for one hour before they engage in math, history or English literacy activities together.  Can you believe that their goal for each child is to have them read 100 books by the end of the summer!? Wow!

The Cook Arts Center, on the other hand, focuses heavily on strengthening kids’ writing skills.  Each day the “Word of the Day” activity requires students to use two pre-selected words in a complete sentence that they record in their mini-journals.  Likewise, students are also asked to write in a separate journal about the chapters that they are required to read from books that they themselves select.  This second journal is especially unique because it will be “followed” by an assigned reading buddy (Youth Assistants) who will spend time with each student encouraging them as they progress in their reading and writing.

We’re excited for our kids and are looking forward to 5 more weeks of fun and learning! :)

Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities administers the programs of the Cook Arts Center and Cook Library Center.