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"Reading Rockets" Series

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The five week Reading Rockets program offers summer literacy classes to our school-age children under the direction of New York State certified teachers. 

Themes are developed around character building including tales of heroic adventures, friendship, and perseverance. ​

Skills developed by the children include creative story writing, grammar proficiency, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and mathematical literacy.

Did you know?

Children in poverty often drop several reading levels during the summer months, while their peers are maintaining or improving their reading skills.

Reading Rockets is funded by the following community foundations for donor advised funds:

  • M&T Bank Partners Trust Foundation

  • The Alexandra G. Kogut Memorial Fund

  • The Mele Foundation


Many thanks to MVCC for providing classroom space for the Reading Rockets program!

2020 Literacy Educator of the Year

     "We are pleased to nominate Shelley Bartolotti for NYRSA Literacy Educator of the Year. Shelley has been part of the Reading Rockets Summer Literacy program at Thea Bowman House since the summer of 2013. Shelley is an accomplished Reading teacher in the New Hartford, New York school system. She is that extraordinary teacher that finds a way to reach her students at a very deep level. She has recently developed the "Character Club" at her school. Shelley uses literature to teach core values.

     Shelley has touched the lives of the children of Thea Bowman House profoundly. Our students are very diverse. They are African-American, Latino, and refugees from Asia, including Burmese, Karen, Vietnamese. Refugees from African countries hail from Somalia, Darfur, Liberia, and Sudan.

     Our summer literacy program began under the leadership of Shelley Bartolotti. It was a well known statistic that children from inner city backgrounds tend to lose ground during the summer months.

     Shelley designed a curriculum that focused around heroes that were representative of our population. There are children present from those first classes that still recall "Ruby Bridges" coming alive to them through Shelley's story telling and book selections. The lives of Nelson Mandela, Harriet Tubman, Jackie Robinson, and Gandhi were also celebrated through literature. Vocabulary units, writing skills and dramatizations all made literature come alive. Children made colorful posters of their hero at the end of the program.

     During the summer of 2019, Shelley expanded her work on heroes and developed a very creative curriculum that included mindfulness education. It was amazing to see a group of very active and sometimes boisterous children totally engaged in an activity that brought them such peace and inner calm.

     The goals of Shelley's work with Thea Bowman House have been to improve disadvantaged students' vocabulary, reading comprehension, phonics skills, and oral reading achievement and to foster disadvantaged students' cognitive, social, and emotional development."

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