Grant puts new books in the hands of students

Keystone Oaks School District  |  Posted on

Book Clubs at Keystone Oaks

It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so, when a colleague comes up with an innovative idea that gets students excited about reading, it doesn’t hurt to borrow it!

That’s exactly what happened at Dormont Elementary School. Last school year, kindergarten teacher Mrs. Wagner began collecting monetary donations, mostly from generous family members and friends, that allowed her to purchase books through Scholastic’s discounted book program and supply her classroom with a new book every month.

Mrs. Wagner shared the success of the program at a staff meeting and her colleagues took note. Now, every second and third grade teacher at Dormont Elementary School, and fourth grade teacher Mr. Sartore at Aiken Elementary School, have started their own fundraising campaigns to implement similar book club programs in their classrooms. This year, the teachers raised more than $2,000, which has allowed them to purchase books for nearly 130 second, third and fourth grade students.

“The students love getting a new book every month,” Mrs. Wagner said. “I would pick seasonal picture books for my kindergarten class and the students enjoyed having their own book to follow along with me. We would complete corresponding activities with each book and use the books to enhance comprehension skills,” she added. The students also got to keep the books, which they loved!”

Dormont second grade teacher Marlo Fryer agrees.

“Last year, the students were so excited on Book Box Delivery day! I would hand the books out and we would smell the pages as we flipped through,” she said. “There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being handed a brand new book.”

It costs $12 per student to provide them with a new book every month for eight months of the school year. All of the teachers that are participating have raised the money themselves, with most of it coming from friends, family members, or others in their network. This year, third grade teacher Carrie Sheariss secured a $500 donation from Michael Cowden at Cowden Creek Realty in Robinson, which helped to cover the cost of the books for every third grade student at Dormont Elementary School.

In addition to these teachers’ fundraising efforts, Kristie Rosgone, who is working with students in the Keystone Oaks Cyber Academy this year, received a $500 grant and 500 Scholastic Bonus Points from Scholastic Book Clubs and author James Patterson.

As a grant recipient, Mrs. Rosgone will have access to a special online boutique filled with promotional discounts on books for every type of reader, as well as a monthly newsletter filled with ideas for building classroom and at-home libraries. She plans to use the grant and bonus points to enrich her math and science curriculum by supplementing lessons with a rich selection of fiction and nonfiction stories to enhance the topics and concepts that her students are learning.

“I’m also planning to use some of the grant money to purchase books as a surprise for the students who are participating in the KO Cyber Academy,” Mrs. Rosgone added.

All of the participating teachers agree that it was important to continue the program this year as a way to keep students connected, regardless of whether they are attending school in person or are learning at home.

“I wanted to make sure that the students had something to look forward to when they picked up their materials each month,” Mrs. Fryer said. “The students have so much fun with the program that they don’t even realize the books are being used to reinforce the reading skills that we are working on in class.”

Mr. Sartore agreed. “The students look at it like their own Book Club, where they are reading for pleasure and are having fun – which, after all, is the best way to make sure that kids keep reading!”