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Neighbors of DuPage

Foundation awards two grants to build better readers

Nov 16, 2015 09:39AM ● Published by Neighbors Magazines

by David May

In the collaborative world of education, it’s always been important for everyone to be “on the same page.” That means teachers, administrators, parents and students are part of one team, striving for the same objectives.

It also holds true for two literacy-oriented grants the Darien District 61 Educational Foundation awarded in August to teachers at Eisenhower Junior High and Lace School. Both grants are designed to nurture the love reading and build broader communities of readers. While everyone participating in the programs won’t literally be on the same page, they will be reading the same book at the same time.

At Eisenhower, the Foundation awarded a $4,500 grant to launch the “One Book, One School” program, which adapts a highly successful initiative already being used in schools across the country. As part of the program, each family at EJH will receive a copy of a designated book, encouraging students, family and school staff to read the book together as a community.

“Creating lifelong readers, inspiring students to read for pleasure, and providing fun and social activities surrounding the book” are among the program goals cited in the grant request. Teachers noted that research shows family involvement in reading has been linked to higher academic achievement.

At Lace School, the Foundation awarded another $4,500 grant to fund “Lace Reads Together,” also designed to make reading a shared family experience. It draws proven ideas from the same organization that provided the structure for the EJH program.

One chapter book will be selected and every Lace family will be given a copy of the book to keep. Discussion will be part of regular classroom instruction, but other activities involving the selected book include trivia contests during morning announcements, assemblies, group activities and even a Family Night.

As the teachers at Lace said in their grant application, the objectives are simple: “Build and expand a sense of community among students, parents, teachers and staff through the experience of reading” and also “build a love for reading through a shared experience where everyone and anyone can participate.”

Since its founding, the Darien District 61 Educational Foundation has awarded more than $44,000 in teacher grants and other program funding to enhance the quality of education available to district students. Please help the Foundation continue to advance its mission by making a year-end donation. To learn more about the many grants awarded to date and to make a tax-deductible donation, visit darien61foundation.org.

David May is a member of the Darien District 61 Educational Foundation board of directors.

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