Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Special Education

Committee Chair

Gretchen Butera.


Energy Express is a six-week summer program to promote the school success of elementary school children living in rural and low-income communities of West Virginia. Throughout the course of the program, college student AmeriCorps members provide literacy, art, and recreation activities for multiage groups of 5 to 8 children under the direction of a site coordinator, most often a local education professional. The purpose of this study was to describe the beliefs of Energy Express participants about educational risks faced by West Virginia schoolchildren, and to examine the effects of those beliefs on daily program decisions and interactions with children. Data collection strategies for qualitative case study at one Energy Express site included interviews, observations, document analysis, and focus group interviews with attending children. Qualitative study yielded eight themes portraying participants' definitions, priorities, recruitment methods, activities and beliefs in addressing educational risk. A Participant Beliefs Survey, comprised of a 45-question Likert scale section and a section in which respondents ranked educational risk variables by importance, was also developed for this research effort. Energy Express personnel statewide (n = 543) responded to the survey. Principal components analysis of Likert scale responses yielded 4 factors believed to predict educational risk. Analysis of the ranking survey revealed that family and within-child factors were believed to contribute the most strongly to educational risk.