Lexington Park North Neighborhood Networks Improves Educational Opportunities for Young Children

[Photo 1: Left to Right - Meaghan Norman, Mary Smith, Jennifer Gibson, Ricki Thurman, Susan Teeter, Larry Knightner, Elaine Bennett, Glenda Fesperman, Linder Leaphart and Harriett Harrison.]
Left to Right: Meaghan Norman, Mary Smith, Jennifer Gibson, Ricki Thurman, Susan Teeter, Larry Knightner, Elaine Bennett, Glenda Fesperman, Linder Leaphart and Harriett Harrison.

Most recently HUD representatives (Larry Knightner, Director, Columbia Field Office; Glenda Fesperman, Supervisory Project Manager; Victor Alvarado, Senior Management Analyst and Elaine Bennett, Neighborhood Networks Coordinator) attended an event in recognition of Park North Neighborhood Networks (NN) Center's unique reading program involving Emily, a yellow Labrador who enjoys listening while program participants practice their reading skills. Once a week, Emily, a therapy dog, and her owner visits the NN Center to make sure that students participating in the program stay on top of their studies. The NN Center is free to all families, has three computers that are linked to the internet and is located on-site for easy accessibility by residents.

[Photo 2: Left to Right: - Andrea Lazaro, Emily, Terionne Harrison and Jaykhia Leaphart]
Left to Right: Andrea Lazaro and her dog Emily listening to a story read to them by a student.

Park North Apartments is a 98 unit, 100% Section 8 multifamily housing complex located in Lexington, South Carolina, and its HUD approved NN Center was established in November 2009. Since that time center staff has continuously worked to positively impact the lives of its residents, and create local partnerships to support the NN Initiative. For example, center staff partnered with New Providence Elementary School and other donors to sponsor a "Back to School" party that was held on Saturday, August 4, 2012. As a result of the partnership formed with New Providence Elementary School, teacher volunteers visit to provide tutoring once per week, and "story time" once per month to strengthen reading skills and abilities.

According to Mr. Van Bowers, Principal, many of his students struggle academically. Therefore, teachers tutor and read to the students all year which has significantly contributed to overall improvement in students' reading and social skills. In addition, the Lexington County Library Book Mobile visits Park North Apartments once per month to promote and encourage students' enjoyment of reading. Basically, Center staff and local partners are committed to making a difference in the lives of individuals residing in HUD assisted housing, and the Columbia Field Office commends Southern Development Management Company for their efforts.

[Photo 3: Left to Right - Jessica Leaphart and Jaykhia Leaphart]
Left to Right: Two students enjoying reading.

Finally, Southern Development Management Company is the HUD approved management agent responsible for the day-to-day operations at Park North Apartments and hosted the NN event to showcase staff accomplishments while simultaneously enhancing community awareness regarding the NN concept. To accomplish this goal, staff extended an invitation to Ms. Meaghan Norman, Reporter with WIS-TV 10, local NBC affiliate. Ms. Norman was extremely excited about the NN concept and conducted interviews with local partners attending the event resulting in the Center being featured during the nightly news broadcast. It is also noted that an article entitled, "Meet a Child's Best Reading Audience: Emily" was featured on WIS-TV 10's official website.


Content Archived: March 2, 2014