Friday, December 16, 2016

Holiday Books Surprise Hundreds at Hollibrook Elementary

The holidays came to Hollibrook Elementary with reading as a priority goal.

On Friday, about 800 Hollibrook students were presented two special presents with classroom teachers. In homeroom, they received a grade-level book and a separate, gently used book matching their personal areas of interest.

The two books came to each student tied in ribbon by a hard working group of Hollibrook parent volunteers and with book plates for both the personal interest and grade-level books included inside.

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The wonderful idea of books as presents was made possible by two thoughtful contributions in addition to a generous donation of more than 1,000 gently used books by the Sister School PTA at Memorial Drive Elementary School.

Hollibrook teachers visited with each child in their homeroom to learn what types of books they like to read. They then chose a book for each student to match areas of interest, and put a personalized book nameplate inside for the child to use as an ongoing reminder that reading is a valued and cherished gift.

“Our students will be so very surprised and excited that their teachers and parents worked so hard for them. This is an important effort to build up our kids personal home libraries and to help advance literacy into the homes of all kids,” Principal Karen Liska said.

More than 20 Hollibrook parents gathered recently in the library to sort books and match student names with titles. Personalizing 803 books to student names is not a small task.

At one library table, a group of moms worked accompanied by several smiling and brightly babbling infants happily tucked into baby carriers and carriages.

The volunteer moms sorted and then wrapped up grade-level books, ranging from classics like Charlotte’s Web to Bridge to Terabithia and The Bossy Gallito, a fun bilingual folktale about a loud and greedy rooster.

“I want to help out and to also support this book activity,” said Sandra Tepozotlan, a mom with three young children enrolled in the early grades. “I would like to see how happy the children are when they see a nice present like a book!”

This marks the first year that Hollibrook has given out two books to all students.

“Our goal at the beginning was to increase personal libraries in student homes and to provide new books for those students who have none,” said Sofia Monzon, who is Hollibrook’s bilingual communication specialist and a book project coordinator.

The personal ties and relationships created between teachers, students and families might be one of the biggest gains for Hollibrook Elementary in the days ahead, but school leadership and teachers are strategically focused on improving both reading and literacy skills among all students and grade levels, too.

“We are making important connections with students and families with this effort,” Monzon says. “It shows our parents and families that not everything given for the holiday needs to be a toy. And teachers giving books to the students at this Winter Break time builds the personal relationship between teacher and student.”

At Hollibrook, students are highly encouraged to read, read, read. Teachers assess their students on a regular basis, and when a student improves their reading by three levels, they earn a reading medal. The first medal awarded is bronze, followed by silver and gold, and the highest possible medal category is platinum, which honors a student for reading above level.

During Friday’s holiday book distribution, many students showed off their reading medals along with their two new books – this pride in reading was both exciting and observed in many classrooms!

“We find that students and teachers are so proud of their progress and like to show off their tags along with Hornets pride,” Principal Liska said.

Volunteer mom Sandra Tepozotlan has big dreams for her three children, and she’s a believer that reading skills are one of the keys to advancement.

“My children like to see me here and supporting the school, and I would like them to get a good education so that they can all get good jobs,” she said.

That well-paying job may start by reading their personal copy of Charlotte’s Web!


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