Building Skills and Having Fun

Early Learning Summer Program in the SPPN

More than 65 proud parents, teachers and children gathered in the afternoon of July 24 for the “graduation ceremony” celebrating the completion of the Ruth Benner Center’s “summer camp” program for 4- and 5-year-olds in the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood.

The children showed off a variety of newly-acquired skills – including singing the alphabet song, identifying colors, break dancing, hula hooping, and counting to ten – in five languages. Proud parents snapped pictures and videos, and clapped and cheered for the excited graduates.

Ruth-Benner1.JPGThe Ruth Benner Center, a Head Start program run by Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties, is located on Fuller Avenue and Dale Street in the heart of the SPPN. The school reflects the diversity of neighborhood itself, with more than 11 different languages spoken in the homes of the children who participated this summer, including Amharic, Hmong, Somali, Spanish, Oromo, and others. The center would not have been open this summer without the SPPN Early Learning Scholarships, which enabled 36 children to participate in this summer learning opportunity. It is one example of how the scholarships are helping to prepare children to enter school ready to learn.

Perhaps no one is prouder than center director Tracy Galatz, who emphasized how important it was for these children to continue their learning and development over the summer. “This has been so wonderful for these kids, and we see such growth over the course of the two months they’re with us.”

Ruth-Benner2.JPGDuring the course of the summer, children did more than just learn and play at the center. They went on 1-2 field trips per week – to everywhere from the Minnesota Science Museum to Dodge Nature Center to Steppingstone Theater. When asked where they had visited, one child answered, “We went everywhere!”

Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood Director (Interim Senior Program Manager at the time) Muneer Karcher-Ramos took the opportunity to tell parents about other programs and activities for children and families in the SPPN, and to ask for feedback on how this summer learning experience was for them and their children.

One parent said her child could not read at all at the beginning, but now knows his letters and is beginning to read sentences. Another said she was concerned that her son was not ready for kindergarten this fall, but now that he has had practice over the summer, she feels he is ready for the longer day that kindergarten will require.

“We want to emphasize that there are many opportunities happening in the neighborhood, and many ways for families to get involved,” Karcher-Ramos said. “This is just the beginning. We want parents and children to stay connected with us.”





 Quick Links


 By the Numbers