Energy Express program in the planning process

Children living in rural and low-income communities often fall behind during the summer months, starting each school year behind where they were the previous spring. Successive summers of limited learning opportunities may cause children to fall below grade level by the end of elementary school – putting them further and further behind more privileged peers.

Energy Express is a six-week summer program promoting the school success of children living in rural and low-income communities across West Virginia. Its goals are to provide summer learning experiences focused on reading with the goal of retention or increasing reading levels, to serve two nutritious family-style meals each day, to engage college students in service through AmeriCorps, and to develop strong partnerships involving parents, schools, communities and state agencies and organizations.

Each day, 40 children who are entering first through sixth grades will arrive to the school where they will work with AmeriCorps members serving as mentors. Using a place-based curriculum that encourages reading, mentors guide the children through enriching experiences that make reading meaningful in their lives – creating books, reading aloud, writing and performing plays, reading silently, journaling, reading one-on-one with others and exploring creative and exciting art activities. Weekly themes of “myself,” “family,” “homeplace,” “community” and “ideal world” guide the development of a “print-rich” environment.

Related activities encourage children to appreciate themselves, their personal experience, and their place in the world. Each week every child receives a free take-home book, related to the theme.

Mentors work with their groups to develop community service projects the children complete. For example, they could create books to donate to libraries, read at nursing homes and hospitals, and write and record public service announcements – learning the value of service while making real contributions to the improvement of their schools and communities.

The WVU Extension Service office and organizations within Randolph County are currently in the planning process to place an Energy Express Site at George Ward Elementary and Elkins Third Ward Elementary schools for the summer of 2013. If you would like to be part of the planning process, please contact Amanda Haller, WVU Extension Randolph County 4-H Agent, at 304-636-2455 or at

In order to make Energy Express a success, we will need help from the community. There will be opportunities for people, organizations and students to help. Each Energy Express site has an average of 58 community, family and teen volunteers. There will also be opportunities for summer employment as a mentor, community coordinator and site supervisor. Mentors and the community coordinator are AmeriCorps positions. The program is currently accepting applications for Energy Express site supervisors, mentors, and community coordinators.

Energy Express site supervisor responsibilities include overall management of a six-week summer learning program for children entering first through sixth grades including supervising AmeriCorps members in meeting program objectives, overseeing use of the facility, connecting with families and the community, adhering to the program model and program policies, and using technology for communication and the submission of data.

Visit for the site supervisor application and complete job description.

Qualifications are no professional contract that overlaps Energy Express program dates of June 7 through July 27 (exceptions made for extension of school year due to snow days); a bachelor’s degree awarded prior to June 7, 2012 or a combination of education and experience (high school diploma or GED and four years of full-time directly related experience at a commensurate level or associate degree and two years of full-time directly related experience at a commensurate level); and Energy Express experience as a site supervisor or AmeriCorps member preferred. Preferred has weight in the screening process, but not in the interviewing and final selection process (WVU Human Resources).

AmeriCorps mentor minimum qualifications are: 18 or older by June 13; U.S. citizen; full-time undergraduate, or college-bound graduating high school senior, or May 2013-college graduate, or December 2012 college graduate without full-time employment.

Specific AmeriCorps service responsibilities include enhancing children’s interest and skills by developing, implementing and evaluating reading-related activities focused on weekly place-based themes; and promoting children’s nutritional wellbeing.

AmeriCorps Community Coordinator minimum qualifications are: 18 or older by June 13, 2013; U.S. citizen; and high school diploma or equivalent.

Visit for specific AmeriCorps application and complete job description.

AmeriCorps Members are required to serve on-site everyday for at least six s hours and to serve some evenings and weekends to meet all service responsibilities and requirements.

Programs and activities offered by the West Virginia University Extension Service are available to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, veteran status, political beliefs, sexual orientation, national origin, and marital or family status. Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution. Consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act, applicants needing reasonable accommodations during the employment process should advise as necessary.