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Energy Express Program To Be Offered Once Again This Summer

February 20, 2019
BY TELINA FRYE - STAFF WRITER (TFRYE@WETZELCHRONICLE.COM) , Wetzel Chronicle

Energy Express is returning to Wetzel County this summer, according to Mollie Toppe, the WVU Extension Agent for Wetzel County.

Energy Express is a six-week summer literacy program for kids in grades 1-6, any ability level. Toppe stated it is a common misconception that Energy Express is only for children who are struggling; however, this is not the case. The program is open to any child, at any ability level.

This year, Energy Express will be held at Long Drain School and Paden City Elementary School. Toppe stated she understands it's easier for kids to attend who are closer to these two schools. Therefore, transportation will be provided to any child attending.

At Energy Express, participants are given breakfast each day, prior to participating in a variety of literacy-related activities. Activities include reading, writing, and artwork. There is also time for drama, as well as recreation. Program participants then receive a healthy lunch each day, prior to going home. All of this is at no-cost to the children and their families.

Toppe said Energy Express has proven to be very helpful, especially in the summer when parents are working. The program gives its child participants a fun and safe place to be during the summer.

Toppe said Energy Express is staffed by two Wetzel County teachers, who act as site supervisors. Mentors are college-aged students who work with the children throughout the summer, and currently, mentors are being hired.

The mentor program is open to any individual who is a graduating high school senior or who is attending college. The mentor receives a $1,850 living allowance throughout the summer. If the mentor completes the entire program, which is about eight weeks - six weeks with the children and two weeks of training ahead of time - the mentor receives $1,200 in an education award, which can go toward college tuition, books, room, and board. Toppe hopes to hire 10 mentors, five at each site.

Toppe said the program has been in Wetzel County for about four years now and is well-received by the mentors who participate. She said the funds come in handy for the mentors, and though the program is work, the mentors receive a good learning experience. She noted that the mentor's college major does not matter; however, the program is beneficial for anyone who is thinking about working with children or studying education. Toppe said some mentors have enjoyed the experience so much that they have changed their majors to education. Others have realized that the education path might not be for them.

Toppe noted the education awards funds come from AmeriCorps and straight into the mentor's college account.

Toppe said Energy Express results from a big collaborative effort. Funding comes from AmeriCorps, WVU Extension, and then, Wetzel County's Energy Express receives 40 percent of its funding through the Wetzel County Schools system. WCS helps with the meals, transportation and use of the buildings. Toppe noted that Energy Express is a valuable program, and it doesn't work without the collaboration.

In Wetzel County, WVU Extension is also partly funded through the Wetzel County Commission. Toppe stated the local support through the County Commission and the Board of Education is very important in order to keep these programs operating.

The Energy Express program is state-wide. However, it is not necessarily in every county. There were about 80 different sites last year, two of which are in Wetzel County. For kids in other counties where it's not offered, they are able to go to other counties where it is being offered.

Also, if families are going on vacation, children are still welcome to attend the program when they're in town. Toppe said Energy Express organizers know that vacations and spending time with family is really important and is part of having a fun summer.

 
 
 

 

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