by Claire Miller
Georgia State University freshman Vernique Thompson sat at a small, wooden table in one of five prekindergarten classrooms at Renaissance Learning Center, reading a brightly-colored children’s book to the small group of pre-K students who sat before her.
The students listened as Thompson read “Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad,” one of Jacky Davis and David Soman’s eight children’s books featuring Ladybug Girl – a young heroine who dons ladybug wings and plays with her friends, who are similarly dressed as butterflies, bumblebees and dragonflies.
Thompson was one of 40 Georgia State students reading the book to prekindergarten students at Renaissance, Dunbar Elementary School and the Burch Learning Center as part of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record, a national event designed to promote early childhood education.
Jumpstart, a nonprofit organization that places current college students and volunteers at early learning centers to teach language and literacy skills, has programs at several universities throughout the country. The corps members and volunteers who work in Georgia State’s Jumpstart program, housed in the College of Education’s Alonzo A. Crim Center for Urban Educational Excellence, log hundreds of hours of classroom work during the school year through events like Read for the Record.
In addition to reading “Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad,” this year’s group of Jumpstart students also brought ladybugs made out of construction paper for the prekindergarten students to decorate with buttons and pipe cleaners, and ended their school visit by giving each child a copy of the book.
“The volunteers were amazing with the children and truly exhibited the university's commitment to service in our surrounding communities,” said Eshe’ Collins, project director for the Jumpstart program at Georgia State.
For Thompson, an early childhood education major, volunteering with Jumpstart and participating in Read for the Record meant getting practical experience with young children.
“I was really excited about working directly with these kids,” she said. “I think they really enjoyed it, and seeing their excitement when they got to take the book home with them was great.”
For more information about Jumpstart and Read for the Record, visit http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/read-record.