Jackson County Campaign for Grade-Level Reading supports students this summer

The Jackson County Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is helping kids stay active with reading through its fifth annual Summer Adventure program, with sites in Andrew, Bellevue, Easton Valley and Maquoketa. Joanne Evans, campaign coordinator, was recognized for her excellent work with a recent award. 

“The Campaign focuses on school attendance, reading readiness and summer learning, so Summer Adventure addresses several of those goals,” says Evans. “With the learning that was missed in 2020 and 2021, teachers mainly targeted students in kindergarten through second grade who could benefit most from the extra academic boost.”

All public and parochial elementary schools in the county are participating in three- and four-week Summer Adventure programs focused on addressing summer learning loss. In the morning, teachers guide students through academic lessons. Thanks to partnerships with local organizations like the YMCA or Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, students get to experience activities like STEM projects, kayaking and canoeing, field trips to nature centers and parks, swimming, art lessons, yoga and even a visit from the rodeo queen. 

Evans went above and beyond for students during the pandemic, and was honored for her work this spring with the Maquoketa Community Schools Education Association’s annual Friend of Education award. During the school year, the Campaign donated books to be given to students for Read Across America week and she filmed volunteers reading stories for teachers to access for lessons throughout the week. This was the beginning of a reading buddies group that also provided nine weeks of virtual story time over the winter for one school’s online after school programing. Students received supplies in advance of these virtual sessions so that after reading stories, they could do guided activities like make slime or create diagrams. 

“Joanne’s compassion and commitment to the children in her community, along with her ability to bring partners together to work toward third grade reading proficiency, is so impactful,” says Cynthia Wehrenberg, who supports area Campaign leaders in her role as youth impact coordinator at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. “It’s wonderful to see such a thriving program, and that is in large part because of Joanne’s work.” 

Evans continues her efforts to keep kids engaged in reading this summer by participating in Creative Fun, a new event for families sponsored by the Maquoketa Art Experience and a local artist. On behalf of the Campaign, Evans will join other nonprofits in downtown Maquoketa to provide make-and-take activities for families. 

Families can look for Evans at local events like Preston Days, where she hosted a book giveaway table in June. She’ll do another giveaway at a Bellevue back-to-school event being organized by Area Substance Abuse Council.

The Jackson County Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is one of 43 Campaigns in Iowa and is sponsored by the Community Foundation of Jackson County. Find more information or contact Evans at jacksoncountyglr@gmail.com