Educational Family Night Sunnydale School Has a Literacy, Computer Night for Parents, Kids

By Miles, Arlene | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 19, 2006 | Go to article overview

Educational Family Night Sunnydale School Has a Literacy, Computer Night for Parents, Kids


Miles, Arlene, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Arlene Miles Daily Herald Correspondent

The original funding is gone, but the weekly literacy and computer nights at Sunnydale Elementary School are so successful that staff is already looking into ways to fund the program next year.

Every Thursday evening since late February, the Streamwood school has opened its doors for two hours to allow students and their families use of the school's computer lab and library.

Students can check out books or research projects in the library or on the Internet. Many also work on My Skills Tutor, an Internet- based learning program that provides activities based on a child's needs.

"We don't have a very large crowd, but we have a very steady crowd," said Ginger Blahnik, fifth-grade teacher and one of four Sunnydale staff members who work the literacy and lab evenings.

Other staff members who work each Thursday are library paraprofessional Judy Dutton and instructional paraprofessionals Joanne Caporale and Laure Beuse.

Sunnydale Principal Denise Lockwald estimates that attendance has grown steadily since the program's inception, and now averages 20 to 25 families per week, some of whom have attended virtually every week.

"It's not just moms coming with their kids, it's both parents coming with the whole family, and it's quite a warm and fuzzy feeling to see," Lockwald said.

Because Sunnydale is classified as a "high poverty" school, with more than half its students coming from low-income families, staff was able to obtain state funding to address concerns of that demographic.

The result was to implement the weekly literacy and computer nights on a pilot basis. Thanks to such a positive community response, however, Sunnydale staff has found alternate funding, via sources such as juice and vending machine sales, and the like, to run the program through the end of April.

"It's our hope that we can get this program started right away in September next year," Lockwald said.

Brenda Fung and her daughter, Karen, a fourth-grader, have attended nearly every week. On a recent evening, the Fungs were working together on math with the My Skills Tutor program.

"Any time there is something at school, she likes to come," said Brenda Fung as she smiles at her daughter.

"Yeah, I don't like weekends or holidays," Karen said. "I like coming to school."

Although the My Skills Tutor is available to families who are connected to the Internet at home, Brenda Fung said she likes to come to Sunnydale for several reasons. …

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