Thursday, May 25, 2017

‘Rotary Readers’ Share Love of Books with SBISD PreKs

Memorial-Spring Branch Rotary Club president Ed Wilson reads to a class of preK students at Bear Boulevard.

Inspiration often comes from the unlikeliest of places.
When Memorial-Spring Branch Rotary Club member Sarah Miorin – who works in SBISD’s Innovation and Redesign division – gave a presentation on literacy to the club, wheels started turning.

Club president Ed Wilson – who works in technology services at SBISD – was intrigued and started asking club members if they’d like to do a book drive to help out.

Did they ever. What started as a book drive for Bear Boulevard turned into a cash donation from Rotary Charities and the purchase of a new book for every PreK student in SBISD’s five PreK centers.

Readers from the Memorial-Spring Branch Rotary Club at Bear Boulevard on Friday, May 5.
“We were just going to do one school and give those kids books,” Wilson said. “We got lucky.”

Leveraging the purchasing power of the Barbara Bush Literacy Houston Foundation, the Rotarians parlayed $1,300 into about that many books and were able to give every SBISD PreK student a book.

Many club members went another step and volunteered to read to Bear Boulevard students on Friday, May 5. At 11 a.m. that day, from classroom to classroom, young students sat cross-legged on the floor, their attention focused on the adults who sat reading before them.

Students were eager to both share what they knew about topics the books introduced, or to ask questions of the readers, questions that were patiently answered.

Memorial-Spring Branch member Mark Harrington faces an eager classroom while reading at Bear Boulevard.
“We were delighted when approached by the Rotary with their desire to give a book to each child and to come read a story to each class,” said School Director Kim Hammer. “The Rotary provided an opportunity to reinforce our love of books and joy of reading at Bear Boulevard.”

One teacher said that having the Rotary reads was a “great, positive opportunity” for students to use their learned social skills in welcoming outside friends to the classroom, Hammer said.

Another class put together a “thank you” book of drawings and thank yous for the Rotary readers.

Bear Boulevard staff are going through books donated to Rotary through the book drive at several area Kroger stores and at Keller-Williams Memorial office.

“There were even enough books for teachers to add some to their classroom libraries,” said Hammer.

Wilson said that he likes service projects that affect the Spring Branch area.

“This project got everybody excited,” he said. “My goal as (club) president is to do more right here, in Spring Branch.” He said that nearly half of the club’s 60 members were involved in the book project – “an all-time high for us,” he said.

Hammer said that several of the Rotary readers are registering as volunteers and are planning to read to classes on a routine basis.

“We’re grateful to the Rotary for their collective greatness to support the love of literacy with every child at Bear Boulevard, and their vision to expand their reach,” she said.

Wilson said that based on what he’s seen and heard from club members, the project will be ongoing.

“Everybody was excited,” he said. “It was great.”

by Rusty Graham


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