Anna, a first grader at Easton Elementary School, was the first student in line this year to pick up school supplies at the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center’s Back to School night on Monday in Easton. Carefully eyeing the $5 in monopoly money that she was given, she inspected the stack of supplies with a shopper’s eye.
Ten minutes later, she skipped away with a grocery bag filled with notebooks, pencils, glue sticks, highlighters, markers and tissues. Then, she was whisked off to a table to complete a seek-n-find in order to be eligible to choose from an attractive pile of toys.
Sneaking learning into fun is typical of the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center (ChesMRC.) The activities that engaged Anna included both financial literacy and reading skills. Through the simple act of choosing and purchasing instead of being handed school supplies, Anna was measuring her own capacity and needs versus wants. In finding words on a paper grid of letters, she was exercising her reading muscles again.
Some 100 children came to the Back to School event at the ChesMRC on Monday, almost all of the 120 enrolled in the Center’s afterschool program. And school supplies weren’t the only things offered. Representatives were on hand from the local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Talbot Community Center’s Ice skating programs, the YMCA and Chesapeake College’s English as a Second Language classes for parents. By the end of the evening, students had new friends in the wings, new hobbies to try, fresh opportunities to test aptitude and skill, along with plenty of cool stuff to take to the first day of school.
School supplies for Back to School Night were funded through a new grant from the United Fund of Talbot County. The United Fund of Talbot County is one of the first organizations to support the afterschool program.
Founded two short years ago, the ChesMRC has quickly emerged as the go-to organization to support the region’s immigrant families. From as far away as China and Pakistan and as near as Mexico, families new to Talbot County can rely on the ChesMRC to help them thrive in our community.
A primary focus of the Center is education. ChesMRC opened its doors as an afterschool program on Aurora St. in Easton in 2012. As the only program in town to serve this population, its success quickly attracted attention. The group was awarded a five year 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant from the Maryland State Department of Education in 2013.
The afterschool program now takes place at Easton Elementary and is open to any child coming from a low-income and minority household. Each day, students receive one hour of formal academic instruction in reading or math, delivered by a certified TCPS teacher. This is followed by a 2nd hour of programming that alternates between arts, science, technology nutrition and exercise. The programming is linked to classroom topics and is taught by trained Instructors and community volunteers.
For more information about the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center, see their website at www.chesmrc.org. For more information about the United Fund of Talbot County, click on www.unitedfund.org