With the arrival of COVID-19, Ocean View-area children lost a significant amount of in-school time and are now faced with even greater academic deficits than before. Which is why the Institute continues its focus in 2021-2022 on enriching student and family appreciation for learning, whether in math or reading or music or works of art.
Ocean View Elementary students most at-risk of falling behind in math or reading have come to depend on East Beach Buddies: a group of caring, dependable adults who mentor to students. Buddies will again be allowed in-school with the same COVD-safe protocols adopted by students, teachers and staff.
A group of about 30 of these Ocean View adult neighbor-mentors, largely from the East Beach neighborhood, work with kindergarten-to-third-grade students to help them to better understand basic arithmetic skills or to spark an interest in reading. The Institute also continues to invest in multiple books, math supplies or materials for nearly 40 Ocean View Elementary students participating in the East Beach Buddies math and reading programs.
Since Norfolk libraries were closed because of COVID or are now open with limited hours, many Ocean View families continue to have less opportunity to borrow and bring a book home. East Beach Buddies enlisted the help of an East Beach neighbor to build a Little Free Library stand erected in Ocean View in July 2021. Institute funding also will help keep new books coming to the Little Free Library.
"Books provide not only a source of information and education, they are a tremendous source of comfort especially to those who need a getaway from the stress of life," says Mary Ann Fussell, East Beach Buddies' long-time coordinator. "A good book is a comfort in helping to bolster our mental health."
The Institute also continues to provide additional funds for The Virginia Symphony Orchestra (VSO)’s Young Peoples Concert at Chrysler Hall for Norfolk schools, so that more than 200 third graders at Little Creek and Ocean View Elementary school will again be able to attend an annual concert, and play along with the orchestra on some music selections with a school-provided wind instrument, a recorder.
"Beauty in one’s environment can be calming and bring joy to its recipients, plus learning more about music or practicing art can be good for one’s self esteem, motivation and mental health, says Monica Van Dyke Johnson, co-chair of Coastal VA Plein Air.
The Institute will continue its support of Coastal VA Plein Air's planning for a children's art program in 2022 as part of its annual spring five-day festival.
In 2022, East Ocean View families also will learn more from guest speakers at the quarterly East Beach Forum, again sponsored by the Institute at the East Beach Bay Front Club, as Ocean View continues to mitigate the effects of COVID.
East Beach Buddies help expand reading literacy at Ocean View Elementary School.