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Girl Scout Gold Project—A Golden Opportunity for Preschool
March 2, 2013
Wearing ‘jammies’ to school and taking part in a shaving-cream spelling contest are just two of Courtlyn Reekstin’s many strategies for getting kindergartners excited about reading and writing.
Finishing up her sophomore year at Upper School, Courtlyn has been volunteering regularly in our Preschool since she was a freshman. Coming in almost every week, she has coordinated with kindergarten teachers Linda Warner and Lori Lines to be an additional resource, helping children practice their developing skills in alphabet recognition, reading, and writing.
The highlight of Courtlyn’s work—both for her and the children—was “Literacy Night,” an evening of storytelling and literacy-related activities that she pioneered last year and held again in April. These events took extensive planning and preparation, as Courtlyn worked with a family friend in California to obtain donated books that the children could take home after the event, lined up volunteers from among her Upper School friends, and prepared activities and supplies for the hour-and-a-half program.
“She did a beautiful job bringing it all together for the evening,” observes Dorothy Halverson (C’85), head of Principia’s Early Childhood program. “It’s amazing to me how she organized all the volunteers.”
The thought and effort Courtlyn has put into this process form the core of her project for the Girl Scouts of the USA’s Gold Award, the organization’s highest award (equivalent to the Boy Scouts’ Eagle rank). A girl scout since first grade, Courtlyn submitted her project proposal in 2011, before heading off to Upper School as a boarder. Greatly impressed with Courtlyn's project, her Girl Scout advisor has submitted an accompanying video (put together by a sophomore classmate) to the National Council as an example of a quality Gold Award project.
With changes in the kindergarten program and a busier schedule as a junior next year, Courtlyn will not be able to volunteer on a regular basis. “I’d love the concept to be sustainable, though,” she says, “because I really see value in it for the kids, especially in the character and communication skills they develop through the process.” Last week, Courtlyn made a presentation to both Lower School and Preschool teachers and librarians to share ideas about various literacy events, generating great interest in planning for the future.