Program helps youngsters with academics, life skills


The Smart Starts Summer Camp Program, 711 W. Edwin St., hosted a tour Thursday morning, to show its partners the success the program has had with the students that attend. Representatives from Lycoming County United Way, Lycoming Children and Youth Services, the YMCA, FNB Bank and the Williamsport Area School District took part in the tour.

The program is designed to support a strong collaboration between STEP, Head Start, Williamsport Area School District, families and community partners to engage 30 to 40 students who will be entering kindergarten through third grade in the next academic year.

Students were selected for the program based on a kindergarten screening and results from universal assessments measures compiled within Williamsport Area School District.

“Working with the school district is key to this program,” Terry Roller, president and CEO of STEP said.

The eight week program began on June 9 and will end on Aug. 14, with a two week break for the Fourth of July and vacations. The students, from Steven’s Primary, start the program at 9 a.m. and finish at noon Monday through Thursday, and focus on small group and individualized instruction.

For 1 1/2 hours each day students participate in life skills activities that focus on socialization, emotional development, fitness, hygiene and nutrition. For the next 1 1/2 hours they focus on improving their reading and math skills, by using Williamsport Area School District’s web-based curriculums, ConnectEd and Accelerated Reader/Accelerated Math.

“We are trying to make it fun, but educational,” Rachelle Abbott, chief planning officer of STEP, said.

While the students attend the program, parents and guardians receive resources, materials and suggestions for daily activities to practice at home, so that the child can continue learning throughout the day. Parents and guardians also receive progress updates at the end of each session and the instructors share ideas to help improve the student’s learning.

“The feedback from the families has been very positive,” Shanaz Mondanipour, child development director for the program, said.

When the students started the program they were given a pre-test to measure each child’s level of learning both academically and in the life skills components. At the end of the program the students will be tested again to measure their improvement over the past eight weeks.

The program is only available to students at Steven’s Primary school, but STEP hopes to expand the program in the future.

“Ultimately we would like to have an after school and summer program,” Roller said.

Another tour will be given for the partners and future partners on July 28.

For more information, call STEP at 570-326-0587 or visit