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Students in Kathie Green’s class at Supply Elementary School have really enjoyed their new friends, the Letter People. The special needs students, ranging in ages from 5-11, have been working with the Letter People, courtesy of an ATMC Smart Connections grant, and Green says it has made a world of difference.
“The children in my class have a variety of developmental delays,” Green said. “One student, who normally does not make eye contact, started making eye contact when the Letter People arrived. This was a tremendous step for this particular child.”
Green and her assistant, Megan Grissett, said they have been amazed at how the children have responded.
The Letter People are a group of puppets representing each letter of the alphabet. Each of the 26 fuzzy, friendly puppets has a name that begins with a particular letter and a look to match.
For instance, the letter D is depicted by Dancing Dave, who wears a dapper dance costume as he darts, dips and dashes across the floor.
Ms. E wears a warm-up suit and carries a set of dumbbells. Her special feature is exercise energy, and she lives on Elm Street across from the Exercise Gym.
These puppets have been introduced in a hands-on approach to the students one by one, with a focus on the look and sound of each letter.
The Letter People also came with large flash cards that are visually stimulating for instruction and response from the students. It helps them learn to read and to sound letters phonetically, understand symbols, improve sign language, increase vocabulary and improve social skills as well. And they are having fun in the process.
Green, who has been teaching for 28 years, has been working with this group of students for more than three years.
“The impact of this program on my students was immediate, and the parents have been thrilled with the results,” she said. “Since the arrival of the Letter People, the children have also been interacting more with each other and with students from a neighboring class, as well as focusing more during circle time. We are so thankful to have these puppets and for the difference they have made for our students.”
ATMC’s grant program was established in 2006. Since that time, $220,000 in community and education grants has been presented to a diverse group of local educators and community organizations.
This year, an additional $50,000 in grant funds will be awarded. Information regarding ATMC Community Connections and Smart Connections grants may be obtained by contacting Daphne Yarbrough-Jones at 755-1755.