Campers come together for Animal Extravaganza Day during the recent Read to Be Ready summer camp. Among the activities was the opportunity for students to hear the heartbeat of Dr. Sarah Bussey’s dog.

Ninety young students have wrapped up their four-week reading summer camp in Cumberland County Schools.

“We appreciate the hard work our people are doing to make sure this is a fun and exciting activity for our children,” Director of Schools Janet Graham told the Cumberland County Board of Education during its June 27 meeting. “I just want to say kudos to our summer Read to Be Ready teachers and staff.”

Cumberland County received a grant to host tuition-free, literacy-focused summer camps at North Cumberland Elementary, Pleasant Hill Elementary, Homestead Elementary and Crab Orchard Elementary. 

Over the course of the program, students compiled 144,000 minutes reading, 72,000 minutes writing and 112,500 minutes on enrichment activities. 

The program sent home 1,350 books with the children and there were 67 family visits to the camps.

But the camps were about more than just numbers, Graham said.

She read a letter from one of the site directors relating the story of a rising third-grader and her younger sister. The two struggled with attendance the first week and teachers soon learned they didn’t have an adult to wake them up in time to catch the bus. 

So the teacher purchased an alarm clock, with the parent’s permission, and the two girls were at the school each day.

On one of the final days of the program, one of the two girls was very sleepy. The alarm clock had malfunctioned and she’d been unable to set it the night before. 

So she set up all night rather than risk missing the bus. 

“She didn’t want to miss the last few days of the best summer reading camp she ever attended,” Graham said.

The state awarded more than $8.9 million to support the summer reading camps in 218 schools across the state. However, the state learned after awarding funds from a federal grant the education camps didn’t qualify. 

While the state found funds to hold this year’s camps, funding to continue the program was not included in the state budget approved earlier this year by the Tennessee General Assembly.

Graham said, “It grieves me that has not been put in the state budget for the coming year. I would encourage our people to send letters of support for Read to Be Ready for summer camps.”

In other action, the board approved the list of approved field trip sites for schools. While the board must approve overnight or out-of-state field trips, places on the approved list do not require additional board consideration. 

Jim Inman, 1st District representative, questioned the inclusion of Burgess Falls State Park located near Cookeville.

"It's a wonderful and beautiful place," Inman said. But he was concerned about taking elementary students to the park due to safety concerns with railing at various sites along the trail.

"I would not be comfortable with a bunch of elementary students going to different areas there," he said.

He moved to approve the list but remove Burgess Falls, supported by Safdie. 

Nearby Cummins Falls was not on the list. It has been the site of flash flooding that required emergency rescue of dozens of park visitors earlier in June and resulted in the death of a 2-year-old child. 

Other items approved by the board were:

•Scholastic Insurers to offer school-day, 24-hour and high school football health insurance coverage to students

•appoint Chief Academic Officer Rebecca Wood as the district testing coordinator

•appoint the Disciplinary Hearing Authority to include Chairman Bo Magnusson, Rebecca Wood, Kenna Inman, Rebecca Farley, Scott Maddox, Vicki Presson and Lisa Phillips

•disposal of surplus property at Crab Orchard Elementary, South Cumberland Elementary and the general and special education departments

•schoolwide fundraiser at Stone Elementary with cookie dough and “mixed bag” sales to raise funds for a digital sign

•accept $3,935 grant from Fuel Up to Play 60 at North Cumberland Elementary



Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.