PAGE-TURNERS impact begins this summer
Have you heard of the “summer slide?” It sounds like something you might find at a water park, but it refers to the decline in academic skills that many students experience during summer vacation.
PAGE-TURNERS, a program that promotes literacy and proficiency in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), is helping turn the slide into a ladder. The three-year, $2.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education is designed to impact children from birth to 5th grade, along with our community, families, teachers, and schools. It will make students better prepared for not only the upcoming academic year, but for the rest of their lives.
This summer, PAGE-TURNERS is:
*Funding literacy/STEM summer camps for up to 45 students at every public elementary school;
*Keeping elementary libraries open part-time; and
*Launching students’ free access to the myON digital library of 6,000 fiction and nonfiction STEM titles. Students can download up to 20 books at a time that the program recommends based on their reading level and interests. They can do this at their school libraries or anywhere else that has internet access, using a school computer or their own device.
Before school dismissed for the summer, PAGE-TURNERS:
*Purchased a STEM book for every PreK-5th grade child’s personal library, the first of six children in that grade range will receive over the course of the grant. The total will be approximately 20,000 books distributed through the county; and
*Provided 500 additional STEM titles at each elementary library.
PAGE-TURNERS plans include:
*Converting a school bus into a mobile literacy/STEM lab that will visit places where people gather across Lawrence County – churches, community centers, and volunteer fire departments. It will offer internet connections, hands-on STEM activities, and more.
*Providing mobile hot spots for areas in the county without internet access.
*Putting up “Little Lending Libraries” in those community centers - small, weatherproof cases that encourage book trading.
*Keeping elementary libraries open after school hours.
*Working with the local hospital and health department to reach new parents and our youngest residents.
*Providing literacy and STEM resources to Lawrence County’s daycares, preschools and Head Start.
This is only part of benefits provided by the largest federal grant ever awarded to Lawrence County. I am privileged to serve on its Advisory Committee, and was blown away by its scope, described at our first meeting by PAGE-TURNERS Director Sonya Hunt.
“Our main goal is to promote the power of reading,” she said. “I’m passionate because I know that reading shapes lives.” Hunt had opportunity to see this proven during 25 years as a classroom teacher.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Innovative Approaches to Literacy grant was offered in spring 2018, and local educators took advantage of the opportunity to get creative.
“Guidelines were given, but the ideas were completely up to us,” said Lawrence County schools’ Federal Programs Coordinator Katie Ridgeway. She and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jamie Glass put together a “pie in the sky” program named “Promoting Academics and Goals in Education – Training and Uniting Rural Neighbors in Early Reading and STEM,” PAGE-TURNERS. With the help of a professional grant writer, Lawrence County placed third among all submissions and received one of 40 awards given nationwide.



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