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Summer Archives

Meredith Waites

Nashville, TN - Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee

" in Literacy" - A Summer of Reading 


When I first began this summer project process, I did not realize the depth and effect illiteracy has on our emerging students. In Metro Nashville Public Schools, only one-third of third grade students can read proficiently, resulting in over 4,700 third grade students falling behind in school each year. The Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee recognized this disparity in reading ability and I had the opportunity to work with them to meet the needs of girls in their L.E.A.D. program by creating a literacy campaign to incorporate reading into Girl Scout programming.


L.E.A.D., which stands for Lead, Empower, Achieve, and Discover, is an initiative designed to give an authentic Girl Scout troop experience to girls who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and high-risk communities. I was able to design, develop, and execute programming for girls from the L.E.A.D. program in order to promote reading and literacy development outside of a school setting.


During the summer, I created a series of summer literacy camps to meet the goals of improving reading comprehension and promoting positive perceptions toward reading among young girls. To create these summer camps, I developed reading curriculum in alliance with the Girl Scout mission, trained and recruited volunteers, organized camp logistics, recruited girls and families to participate in the pilot program, and designed evaluation methods to assess reading progress before, during, and after the literacy camps. After six weeks of running these pilot literacy camps, I readapted the summer curriculum to develop yearlong programming for the Girl Scouts so that every L.E.A.D. Girl Scout across Middle Tennessee, over 1,900 girls ranging from ages 5 to 18, will get to participate in activities and lessons this upcoming year that promote literacy.


Through this summer project, I got to know 52 of the girls who are lumped into the 66% statistic of students who fail to reach reading proficiency in Davidson County. Spending everyday with these girls showed me their passions, their personalities, their determination, and their growing love for reading. I got to witness girls become empowered through reading, gain confidence, develop as scholars, and become leaders to their peers. Literacy is such an empowering tool and I am so honored that I got to work a group of spunky, fun, brilliant girls to recognize how reading can help them become future artists, teachers, inventors, and business-owners. But, this project and the impact of this literacy program will not end with these girls. The Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee are committed to the sustainability and longevity of the literacy campaign so that all 1,900 L.E.A.D. girls can be positively impacted through reading. I am so grateful to work alongside the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee and Nashville families as we together focus on the common goal of giving children the skills, support, and empowerment they need to become successful readers, leaders, and entrepreneurs.