South Students Lead Literacy Camp at Fonde Elementary
Posted on February 27, 2023 by CEPS Marketing and Communications
The University of South Alabama College of Education and Professional Studies Literacy Center recently sponsored a camp for 60 kindergarteners and first graders at Fonde Elementary School in Mobile. Fonde is a year-round public elementary school, and the literacy camp was held in February 2023 during the school’s two-week winter intersession.
“This was a great partnership, and we really enjoyed having South on campus,” said Courtney Thompson, an Alabama Reading Initiative reading specialist at Fonde Elementary and a South graduate.
South education majors planned and led classroom lessons for the camp, and the Literacy Center provided materials. The student teachers worked closely with the children and gained valuable leadership experience.
“I had the opportunity to come in and lead my own classroom for a week, which is not a normal opportunity for a tier two student,” said Domonique Garcia, an undergraduate student majoring in elementary education at South, who led activities for kindergarteners during the camp. “I’m really grateful, and I’ve been able to improve my classroom management and instructional skills. I still have a whole year until I graduate, but I am thankful for the University and my professors. They have really prepared me.”
Garcia has been at Collier Elementary in Mobile for recent field experience, and she’s been able to observe in classrooms, with instructional experience here and there. However, the camp at Fonde was Garcia’s first time leading group instruction.
“I feel really honored and proud to represent the University,” Garcia said. “I’ve had wonderful mentors guiding me during this experience, including Mrs. Holland, Ms. Thompson and Mrs. Vermillion.”
Jennie Vermillion is a kindergarten teacher at Fonde and a South graduate. She has been teaching at the elementary school for 20 years.
Students at Fonde participated in several Mardi Gras-inspired activities, including eating moonpies and king cakes, making floats and other crafts, and reading “Mardi Gras in Alabama,” a book written by Karyn Tunks, a professor emeritus at the College of Education and Professional Studies.
“The Literacy Center provided camp leaders with several books and supplies, including signed copies of ‘Mardi Gras in Alabama,’” said Joan Holland, director of the USA Literacy Center. “Karyn Tunks’ book inspired several fun activities for the camp, including making bead necklaces and Mardi Gras masks and floats. In addition to providing books for teachers to use in their classrooms, each kindergarten and first grade student was able to add five new books to their own home libraries.”
The USA Literacy Center offers reading and writing support to K-12 students. Through community outreach, the center gives children the opportunity to strengthen their literacy skills through individual and group sessions. The center, located on South’s campus, also offers a summer literacy camp each year.
Bobbie Ducksworth, a graduate student at South who is pursuing an alternative master’s degree in early childhood education, led classroom instruction for first graders at the Fonde literacy camp. Ducksworth also serves as a graduate assistant in the Literacy Center, where she plans and teaches individualized reading and writing lessons based on each client’s needs.
“It was really nice to be able to see a different side of teaching,” Ducksworth said. “I’ve only been student teaching and working at the Literacy Center, but the first day I came into the classroom at Fonde, I knew this was it – what I’ve been preparing to do. The kids were amazing, sweet and eager to learn.”