Summer reading academy helps Cobb County elementary students hone skills

America Reads Fast Start Academy

The scene was best described as organized chaos when 30 Cobb County elementary school students…

Georgia (Jun 30, 2011)

The scene was best described as organized chaos when 30 Cobb County elementary school students participated in a campus planting project June 20, as part of Kennesaw State University’s America Reads Fast Start Academy.

The theme for this year’s program, now in its 11th year, is “The World Around Us,” and focuses on recycling, weather, pollution, water and planting through reading and enrichment projects.

As one elementary student dug a hole, four or five others stood in a quasi-line, purple verbena plants in hand. In all, five flats were planted in a newly dug garden between the University College and English buildings.

“This program is not a substitute for summer school, rather its designed to help keep the children on track, so they don’t lose their reading skills over the summer,” said Sylvia Inman, assistant director of Volunteer KSU and founder of the Fast Start Academy. “The kids really enjoy being on campus, and we’ve already planted the seed for them to come to KSU one day.”

Fast Start Academy is an extension of VKSU’s America Reads Program, part of the Federal Work-Study Program, a federally funded program that sends about 25 KSU students to seven elementary schools in Cobb County during the academic year to tutor kids in reading. In the summer, the rising third-and fourth-graders come to KSU.

“The purpose of the Federal Work-Study Program is to give relative work experience to students while they’re in school,” program coordinator Cheryl Betts said. “The academy helps keep the kids from falling behind during the summer through reinforcement of reading and vocabulary skills.”

Of the 100 invitations sent out, with recommendations from local school teachers, Betts received 75 responses back for 30 slots. The program is free for participants.

“The program is extremely popular with the local elementary schools,” Betts said. “And, it’s valuable experience for our education majors, who get to work with the kids in a live setting.”

The Fast Start Academy is staffed by KSU education majors, two lead teachers and 20 additional students who serve as teacher assistants and rotate in and out of the program during its three-week run.

By Jennifer Hafer


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit