Dalton-Whitfield Archway Partnership Updates

Welcome to the Dalton-Whitfield Archway Partnership Blog. Check this blog regularly to learn about the priorities, goals, and actions of the Archway Partnership.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dalton Whitfield Archway Partnership Teams Up with Local Educators to Share Best Practices at Georgia Department of Education (DOE) Conference

At a recent Georgia DOE conference, Archway Education Professional Katy Green collaborated with Kathryn Wilhoite and Maria Khote from Dalton Public Schools to share results from Archway’s pilot Saturday Academy program. Roughly twenty practitioners from around the state had the opportunity to learn about best practices and lessons learned.  Feedback was very positive, with many communities interested in learning more about Saturday Academy and the Archway Partnership.  

A link to the presentation can be viewed here. Photos of the three presenters can be viewed below. 

Conference presenters from left to right: Kat Wilhoite, Dalton Public Schools Teacher; Katy Green, Archway Education Professional; and Maria Khote, Dalton Public School Parent Educator

Presenters Kat Wilhoite (far left) and Maria Khote (right, next to Kat) discuss the presentation with participants after the conference. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Tri-University Research Team Notes Significant Learning Gains in Saturday Academy Participants

The Dalton-Whitfield Archway Partnership recently facilitated Saturday classes for families of three-to-five year old children at the Mack Gaston Community Center. These classes were designed to promote school readiness skills and empower parents to serve as their child’s first teacher.

An evaluation of the pilot by researchers from the University of Georgia, the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, and the University of West Georgia indicated that participants experienced significant gains in school readiness skills, oral vocabulary, and an improvement of the family home literacy environment. Thirty families participated in the pilot study. Over 80% of participants were Spanish speaking only, and all classes and information were in a bi-lingual format. Parents reported a desire for more classes.  In addition, they indicated in a survey that they are reading more with their children, have a better understanding of child development, and now have a better understanding of all that they can do to help their children at home. An article highlighting the program's success and published by the Daily Citizen Newspaper can be read herePictures of the program can be viewed on our Facebook photo albums here

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Book Drive Continues With Major Donations from Chattanooga Food Bank, Salvation Army, and Private Donors

This spring, Readers to Leaders hosted a formal book drive to supply book giveaways including Book Nooks, Pre-K registration, and Summer Power Lunches.  In light of the tremendous interest in these giveaways, our need has outpaced our books.  Fortunately, local donors have risen to the occasion to facilitate our summer giveaways.  Recently, the local Salvation Army donated two large bins of books; the Dalton branch of the Chattanooga Area Food Bank donated 352 lbs. of books; and private donors have cleaned out their basements (and their neighbors’ basements) to support the cause. A great big thank you goes to local community members, Tom and Ginger Mathis, who collected books from family and friends for Readers to Leaders at a personal event in their home. 

We are still in need for more books, as community demand is more than our current supply. If you or someone you know has books to donate, contact Archway Partnership United Way VISTA Melissa Morrison at 706.712.0961 or readers2leadersdw@gmail.com. 

Pictures of recent book donations can be viewed below.

Archway Partnership United Way VISTA Melissa Morrison smiles at the load of books in her car donated by the Salvation Army.

Books donated by the Dalton branch of the Chattanooga Area Food Bank were loaded onto a scale (left) before being brought to the Archway Partnership office. The weight totaled 352 lbs. (right)!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Archway’s Readers to Leaders Fuels “Power Lunches” at County USDA Free Lunch Sites

This summer, the Archway Partnership’s Readers to Leaders initiative is giving out free books to children at eight of our neediest USDA free lunch sites in Whitfield County.  Children without access to books typically regress academically in the summer when compared to their peers who do have access.  Research has proven that book access can make a tremendous difference in preventing the drastic learning slide. 

Readers to Leaders is providing books collected from donors and book drives, and Whitfield County Food Services is making sure the books get in the hands of kids. The Chamber of Commerce, Dalton State College’s School of Education, AmeriCorps VISTAs, and several churches are conducting reading circles and extra learning opportunities at some of the sites. This initiative would not be possible without Alice Ensley with Big Red Reads who has assisted with best practices and book donations.

Locations serving as a host site for children to receive their free lunch and book are: Mountain View Subdivision, Dawnville Meadows, Pleasant Grove Elementary School, Cedar Ridge housing area, Swamp Creek Baptist Church, New Haven United Methodist Church, Margaret Circle, and River Bend housing area.

We anticipate giving out around 1,000 books (or more) a week between now and the week of July 28.  Volunteers are needed to pass out books, encourage kids to read, and read to children at the sites. Books are also needed to accommodate the thousands of children receiving books over the coming weeks.

Pictures of the Power Lunches can be viewed here on our Facebook photo albums page. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

18 Book Nook Locations in Whitfield County!

Limited access to books is a barrier to reading for many Dalton-Whitfield families.  To facilitate children and parents reading together, the Archway Partnership has placed bookshelves, or “Book Nooks,” filled with children’s books at sites around the community where youth typically wait with their parents. Sixteen total Book Nooks have been placed around the community including local non-profits, banks, school enrollment offices, and doctor’s offices. The remaining two sponsored Book Nooks have been constructed and will soon be delivered to Juvenile Court and Dalton Public Schools Enrollment offices. The Rotary Club, Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia, and Dalton State Athletics have sponsored all 18 Book Nooks thus far.  Books are supplied courtesy of an ongoing book drive managed by Readers to Leaders VISTA Melissa Morrison. Site hosts have noted a huge interest among clientele. Vonda Bledsoe, branch manager at the Georgia United Credit Union host site recently noted that, “Our Book Nook is a great hit! The kids are loving it. Thank you again!” One of the banks is attempting to start a statewide program based off the success of their local Book Nook. Photos of some of our most recently placed Book Nooks can be viewed below. 

Community & Southern Bank staff were delighted to receive this Book Nook! 

Barbara Martin with a Book Nook at the Dalton branch of the Department of Labor.

Tom Bartley smiles proudly in front of Family Support Council’s new Book Nook.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Design, Engineering and Manufacturing Camp Wraps up its Fourth Year with 77 Attendees

From June 2-5, 2014, 77 local middle school students attended the fourth annual Design, Engineering, and Manufacturing (DEM) day camp at the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy. The goal of the free camp was to spark an interest in manufacturing among local youth and show them the wide range of jobs and skills demanded in modern manufacturing, particularly in the floorcovering industry. 

At the camp, students had the opportunity to build and design wooden cars, create their own carpet designs, build a full scale hovercraft, use computer-assisted design (CAD) to create projects, explore career options, tour local floorcovering plants, and participate in team-building activities. 

The idea for a Design, Engineering & Manufacturing Camp emerged during Archway’s Higher Education Issue Work Group sessions in spring 2011.  At the meetings, citizens talked about the need to expose students at an early age to the variety of career options available to them.  A Leadership-Dalton Whitfield survey conducted during fall 2010 revealed that students had very low perceptions of local opportunities and did not understand the highly-skilled nature of many jobs.  Thanks to the vision and hard work of leaders Barbara Ward (Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce) and Brian Cooksey (Shaw Industries), the dream of DEM Camp became a reality in 2011 and continues to grow each year.

Photos courtesy of the Daily Citizen Newspaper can be viewed below. More about this year’s DEM camp can be read here. For more about the Dalton-Whitfield Archway Partnership’s involvement with the DEM day camp, click here.  

 Chris Forscutt drops an egg in an apparatus constructed by students during an engineering camp at the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy. Student teams were given a paper bag with three drinking straws, cotton balls, tape, chewing gum, a length of string and a small balloon and were tasked with creating a device which could protect the egg in an 8-foot drop. (Matt Hamilton/The Daily Citizen)

 Audrey Webb, 11, Braeden Gallman, 11, and Nicholas Ruiz, 11, participate in the egg drop challenge at the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy. (Matt Hamilton/The Daily Citizen)

 Brad Johnson with Mohawk demonstrates the use of a beam array as students use it to measure various objects at the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy. (Matt Hamilton/The Daily Citizen)

Rachel Climer, 12, and Will Wright, 11, work to create a Lego object identical to one on a table across the room, obstructed from their view at the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy. Students were separated into groups of “spies” and “builders.” The spies could look at the object and then had to run back across the room and describe it to the “builders.” (Matt Hamilton/The Daily Citizen)

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Latest at Lakeshore Park

At the end of 2011, UGA students Rachel Johnson and Justin Crighton teamed up with City-County Planner Kevin Herrit to host a planning event for the local Lakeshore Park. Prior to the event, Rachel and Justin prepared three different concepts for the park. Community members had an opportunity to view these proposals and then make comments about what they would like to see in the park. Over the next year, the Archway Partnership Executive Committee realized how important improving the park was and made it one of their top priorities. Today, a small team continues to work with local elected officials and property owners in the area to determine how changes can be implemented.