Partnership Inspires Summer Reading in South Carolina

Robinson Nuclear team member Celia Thompson reads to children at Bishopville Elementary.
Robinson Nuclear team member Celia Thompson reads to children at Bishopville Elementary.

Studies show that children’s reading skills atrophy over the summer break. In an effort to help prevent this decline, Duke Energy and Reading is Fundamental have partnered to bring Read for Success to select schools in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina.  Read for Success is an evidence-based intervention program proven to minimize summer learning loss and improve reading proficiency.

Read for Success is based on the premise of motivating students to read by providing access to and ownership of books of their choosing for summer reading, professional development for teachers and effective standards-aligned STEAM-themed (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics) classroom books and enrichment activities that inspire learning.

In all, 3,000 second graders in 36 schools in Chesterfield, Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon, Lee, Marlboro, Marion and Williamsburg counties were selected for the program, which is fully funded by the Duke Energy Foundation with no costs to schools to implement the 10-week program. Each second grader was given the opportunity to choose eight books to own and take home to read over the summer.

Students and school officials have been delighted by the program. “Everyone is just so excited about the books,” Cain Elementary Principal Carla Watford said. “It’s all they have been talking about. The students just can’t believe the books belong to them.”

Children at Cain Elementary gather around to hear Robinson team member Bruce Douglas read.
Children at Cain Elementary gather around to hear Robinson team member Bruce Douglas read.

The students weren’t the only ones excited about the program. Duke Energy’s Robinson Nuclear Plant is located just a short-drive from many of the schools involved in the program and team members there were excited about helping out. Volunteers from the plant visited several schools, assisting with book distribution, doing in-class readings, and talking to students about electricity and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

“We have had such a tremendous response from the schools and students about the program,” said Amanda Dow, the Duke Energy Foundation’s community affairs manager for South Carolina. “Reading proficiency is the foundation to help children succeed, and we’re excited about the possibilities of growing this program in the future.”