We are told to love our neighbors; NOW what does that practically look like?
In the fall of 2020, a group of Covenant Day students completed two months of training and a practicum to become Augustine Literacy Project tutors. The Augustine Literacy Project is a nonprofit that uses the Orton-Gillingham approach to improve the reading, writing, and spelling skills of students in need. God opened the door for Covenant Day students to provide virtual tutoring two days a week at The Nest Academy, and the project has since taken flight!
This year, CDS students continue to tutor at The Nest Academy in person on Tuesdays and virtually on Fridays, and all these students are now officially certified through the Augustine Literacy Project. However, the most exciting news is that Covenant Day's partnership with The Nest Academy has expanded beyond just tutoring to involve almost all aspects of our Restoration and Sustainability program - even lower school students at CDS are benefitting.
One example is Covenant Day's first-grade class. Several months ago, the first-grade lead teaching team was looking for new ways to reinforce letter sounds. After discussing Orton-Gillingham approaches with Curriculum Director Jenny Merkey and Academic Resources Director January Reed, Mrs. Merkey suggested that first-grade students get assessed by our very own Augustine Literacy tutors. The assessments happened shortly thereafter and the first-grade team said it's been very helpful! Heather Couzen, a first-grade teacher, said that the information gave her new insights, helped shape reading groups, and has assisted teachers in providing each CDS student with an even more tailored approach to learning.
In addition, Restoration and Sustainability engineering students designed B and D letter inversion tools for students at The Nest Academy. Some students in the Academic Resources program at CDS will also receive one. Since reading challenges often involve difficulty distinguishing between the letters B and D, this tool will be another way to help students recognize the difference between the two letters.
Before Christmas, the engineering class presented their prototypes to Mrs. Reed and Academic Resources Learning Specialist Caron Lye, who provided feedback. Lower school students were then paired with a high school buddy and had the chance to watch the design process and even customize an inversion tool with their name!
“B and D reversal is a real struggle for many students,” said Mrs. Reed. “There are so many different tricks educators use to help students stop reversing their Bs and Ds. Yet, it is very difficult for some children to see the letters correctly because they are the same letter! Over time, a student gets discouraged and embarrassed. By partnering a lower school student with a high school student and working together to customize their B and D letter beds, we felt that our little ones would have a sense of pride as they use these tools in their classrooms.”
Finally, Restoration and Sustainability's RESTORE team recently hosted the Nest students at the CDS aquaponics pond. The purpose was to build relationships and let students see a finished aquaponics pond firsthand. The next step is to build a pond at the Nest. CDS students will visit the Nest bi-monthly to plan out a system and build a pond.
“I love to see our CDS students use the skills and abilities that they are learning and have learned in a unique and applied way,” said Restoration and Sustainability Director Jonathan Chin. “Having January Reed and Caron Lye come to us with the need for the B and D learning tool gave a great opportunity for the engineering students to apply the everyday skills that they are learning in a way that impacts our next generation of students. In time we want to be able to see all of our Restoration and Sustainability initiatives continue to impact people locally and around the world.”
We look forward to seeing how God continues to weave together a partnership between Covenant Day and The Nest Academy to enhance learning for all students!
As believers, we are called to care for our neighbor and the world. God gave each of our students incredible and unique gifts to accomplish this calling. That's why our Restoration & Sustainability program exists: to cultivate these talents so we as a community can meet the felt needs of our broken world for the glory of the Lord.