Westminster Future Homemakers' project promotes literacy


"Are you having fun?"

The toddlers' resounding "YES!" assured Kate Jerome that the skit went over big -- even though she did lose her tail.

The unscripted dose of slapstick delighted the youngsters, who howled when Miss Jerome, playing the Big Bad Wolf in a dramatization of "The Three Little Pigs," scurried from the Dixon Room at the Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library on Tuesday -- missing the back piece of her costume.

Sponsoring the program was the Westminster High School chapter of the Future Homemakers of America, whose community service project is promoting family literacy.

Miss Jerome and nine other students associated with the project, called ROSE, or Result of Student Effort, were excused from classes Tuesday to read to the youngsters.

"They have fun with it," said Joan Harrington, a home economics teacher at Westminster High and an adviser to the group. "It's rewarding, knowing how much they can accomplish, and they feel good about what they're doing."

For her role in developing the ROSE project, Mrs. Harrington was named home economics Teacher of the Year by the state Department of Education.

The club also received an award of excellence from state government for its work this year.

Club members have gone to shelters for the homeless to read to people and have distributed books from the Reading Is Fundamental Foundation to needy youngsters.

About once a month, they read to students in the Head Start program at Robert Moton Elementary School.

For the students involved, generating ideas to make learning fun can be a challenge. On Tuesday, they donned costumes and used pictures and hand puppets as visual aids.

More than entertainment, however, the program's main goals are to increase interest in reading and to encourage parental involvement. Each child leaves the session with a packet of activity work sheets that can be done at home.

"It has enhanced her interest in books," Diane Miller said of her daughter Lauren, 3 1/2 , who attended the program. "It's a great enrichment."

For their part, the high school students earn community service hours and get hands-on experience working with children, important for those who are planning careers as teachers or child-care workers, said Sharon Wiltrout, a special eduction teacher at Westminster High and an adviser to the group.

"Their participation often leads to volunteer opportunities or part-time summer jobs," she said.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad