Participating districts comprise 11 school libraries serving 12 elementary school campuses in three South Texas counties.
In the Beeville ISD, Fadden-McKeown-Chambliss (grades 1-5), Hampton-Moreno-Dugat (PK-K), R.A. Hall (1-5) and Thomas Jefferson (1-5) were grant recipients.
This year’s application marked the third time Beeville had applied for Launch Me to Literacy, said Melissa Hughes, curriculum/instruction elementary librarian for the district.
The project will primarily focus on grades prekindergarten through three (3,629 students), because those are the ages allowed for at the federal level, but the addition of resources will impact all elementary teachers and students served by the member libraries. The PK-5 enrollment at each campus ranges from 187 to 616 students (avg. 393). The project will directly serve an estimated 9,000 parents/guardians.
Launch Me to Literacy is a comprehensive program of library improvement, professional development, collaboration, administrative support and parental involvement to improve reading achievement at 11 elementary libraries, representing 12 campuses in three high-need rural school districts in South Texas. The project will be managed by the Education Service Center, Region 2 (ESC-2) and will impact 14 library staff members; 229 teachers, 3,629 students, 12 principals, three superintendents and an estimated 9,000 parents.
“The bulk of the grant will be for additional books,” said Hughes. “We hope to add on an average of three books per student in pre-K through third grade.”
Hughes said the average library book costs $21.75. She and the rest of the grant committee chose to focus on non-fiction books because those are more expensive. They also hope to increase student interest and comprehension of non-fiction to help with state testing later in students’ school careers.
The grant project is designed to be a catalyst for increasing family involvement in children’s reading and improving student reading achievement. Funding will enable libraries to purchase reading materials in all formats to enhance students’ learning, including print, digital and audio books and instructional technology tools.
“As the largest classroom in the school, the school library is the great equalizer bringing rich resources to every student while matching interests and abilities on an individual basis with the assistance of trained professionals,” said Kim Picozzi, grant project director and ESC-2 regional librarian.
Librarians and teachers will collaborate to incorporate beginning literacy strategies and instructional technology tools to engage students in reading. New advanced technology such as instructional white boards and mobile technology teaching stations will be integrated into the curriculum to increase students’ skills in retrieving and using information.
Family literacy events held by each participating campus will guide parents in creating rich reading environments in their homes to support student learning beyond the school day.
“For parent involvement, one of the exciting things is that we now have funds for literacy backpacks, which are take-home kits for pre-K students,” said Hughes. “One student will be able to take home 15 to 20 books and keep them for a week at a time.”
The ESC-2 will serve as fiscal agent, manage the project, provide technical assistance, and facilitate professional development and collaborative activities.
“When librarians team up with teachers, students and parents benefit from a curriculum that is resource rich. Launch Me to Literacy will provide the critical resources and activities needed to spark imaginations and increase reading achievement,” Picozzi said.
The grant period will open Sept. 1 and continue through Aug. 31, 2011. Hughes expects to have books on the shelves by Halloween and hopes the first parent event will take place before Thanksgiving.