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Promoting Literacy & Development

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Marquel Norton, A14, a Jumpstart corps member committed to education, is excelling at his fellowship through Tisch College’s Active Citizenship Summer: Massachusetts program.

Marquel Norton working with child

Marquel Norton, A14, is applying and testing the skills and knowledge he’s gained at Tufts to his fellowship in Tisch College’s Active Citizenship Summer: Massachusetts program. Tapping his training as a Jumpstart team leader and student of child development and clinical psychology, Norton is working with low-income children and youth involved in the Mystic Learning Center.

“Active citizenship is about our responsibility for the greater communities where we live,” said Norton. “I think we have a special responsibility to children, to make sure they can reach their greatest potential, and teach them to value both their own interests, and those of others.”

Norton has been immersed in teaching and child development for years.  In middle school he began working with the Breakthrough Collaborative , which promotes college access and prepares older students for careers in education.  Since coming to Tufts, Norton has been involved with Jumpstart, a national early education organization that trains college students to teach literacy and language skills to preschoolers, preparing them for kindergarten.  He worked in classrooms for three years, becoming a team leader helping to mentor other Tufts students, and remains active in the Jumpstart alumni community.

“Jumpstart was really my introduction to literacy and how it relates to the whole development of children,” said Norton.  “Social, emotional, cognitive, and physical growth are all interconnected and language and literacy are an important part of that, for example kids need language stimulation from an early age to even gain access to literacy in later years.”

For the students of the Mystic Learning Center, which serves the children and families of the Mystic Public Housing Development and East Somerville, Norton is developing a curriculum that will prevent the learning loss that often occurs during summer vacation.  He has consulted with English language arts teachers at Somerville’s Arthur D. Healey School to synchronize his plans with what students have learned, and support their needs.  The goal is to equip all students with strategies to assist their reading and writing.

Norton has another, more immediately tangible goal for his students as well.  “Everyone will get a library card,” he said.  “Knowing how to use the library and have access to its resources is a key part of literacy.”

The work has already given Norton a new perspective on his coursework.

“Issues that we covered in classes like Child Care: Policy and Practice have been popping up,” he said.  “I’ve been a part of staff trainings and seen parts of the state’s assessment system.  It’s been really interesting to see the inner-workings and the perspective from the administrative side.”

A rising senior, Norton is also starting to look ahead, studying for the GREs and exploring graduate programs in school and clinical psychology.

“I want to work with minority populations in a school setting,” he said.  “I am committed to using literacy as a way to engage children and further their social and emotional growth, and to be an advocate for the students who aren’t getting the attention and support they need.  Everyone deserves to reach their full potential, and I want to be a part of creating the kind of atmosphere and opportunities that encourage positive development.”