County schools push summer reading


By Terri Flagg - [email protected]



Brian Leos, a rising third-grader at Rockford Elementary, poses for a photo with Deanne Fitzgerald, physical education teacher, at his school's first book bus stop.


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The "Little Free Library" shown here is located outside Copeland Elementary School to provide easy access to free books over the summer. Each Surry County elementary school features a mini-library.


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Kristi Calton, media coordinator at Rockford Elementary, reads to children at the first stop of the school's book bus.


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Surry County Schools’ book bus fleet has doubled this summer, with two buses now regularly delivering books to children in their respective communities.

Rockford Elementary’s book bus made its first trip on Tuesday.

“We had a pretty good turnout,” said Sonia Dickerson, director of communications, teacher quality and instructional media for the school system.

“It was raining the entire time, so that probably deterred a few kids from coming out,” she said. “The staff enjoyed getting to see the students, read to them, give them a book and a snack, while also encouraging them to read throughout the summer.”

Students can catch the bus again on July 12, July 26 and Aug. 29 from 9 to 11 a.m.

After running a route that includes stops along Pen Oak Lane, Blanton Lane and Simpson Mill Road, the bus will return to the elementary school, where the media center will be open those dates between 11 a.m. and noon.

The Rockford program was modeled after Flat Rock Elementary’s Magic Book Bus, which launched last year.

This year, from July 12 to Aug. 4, the Flat Rock book bus will travel through the community on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 11 a.m., delivering a free book along with a drink and a snack.

Stops include Shelton Church of the Brethren, Mount Herman Church and Flat Rock Baptist Church.

Both book bus programs are funded through Surry County Schools Educational Foundation grants.

The growth of the book bus program reflects an effort to implement summer reading programs system wide.

“We have a long summer ahead,” said Dickerson, referring to the 2016 calendar that includes a longer than usual summer break.

“Statistics show that children experience what is called the ‘summer slide,’” she said.

“It’s like a little setback. Just because school is out doesn’t mean that reading and learning should stop for our students.”

Media coordinators from each elementary school gathered in March.

“We came together to discuss things we could do to keep elementary students actively engaged in reading programs over the summer,” she said.

After the brainstorming session each school was tasked with implementing a program.

While each media coordinator was given the creative freedom to target their programs to their specific communities, there is some overlap.

Many schools are partnering with the summer reading programs at the public libraries.

Several schools sent home summer reading bingo cards and packets with students before the school year ended.

Students fill out their bingo card with books they have read, which makes them eligible for different kinds of rewards.

Others are participating in the state Battle of the Books, where students help their schools compete against other schools by reading from a book list.

Most schools are promoting the “Little Free Library” located at each elementary school.

North Surry High School students had built and painted small wooden boxes on posts to house a number of books available anytime, creating an easily accessible free book exchange.

Mount Airy High student Coleman Craddock established book kiosks in the city at Riverside Park and Lowry Park last fall.

At Dobson Elementary School, golden tickets were placed in some of the little library’s books. Students can exchange those tickets for a prize when they return to school in August.

Borrowers are encouraged to return or replace the books.

Each elementary school will offer different types of programming throughout the summer.

Copeland Elementary School

Following the theme “Read Strong all Summer Long,” the school’s media center will be open for three different sessions:

• June 30 – 3 to 5 p.m.

• July 14 – 10 a.m. to noon.

• August 4 – 3 to 5 p.m.

Flat Rock Elementary School

The media center will be open:

• July 12 – 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

• August 9 – 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Summer Maker Space Days will be held in the media center:

• July 14 – 2 to 4 p.m.

• July 28 – 2 to 4 p.m.

• August 4 – 2 to 4 p.m.

Pilot Mountain Elementary School

Spirit nights featuring a different activity will be held at the Charles H. Stone Memorial Library:

• July 25 – 6 to 8 p.m.

• August 15 – 6 to 8 p.m.

Family History Night, using Ancestry.com, will be held at the school:

• July 14 – 6 to 8 p.m.

Shoals Elementary School

Participation in the “Make It and Take It” reading program at Shoals provides students with the opportunity to earn Accelerated Reader points for the fall and to earn a field trip.

• July 12 – “MakerSpace,” 12 to 2 p.m.

• July 19 – “Pop Open a Good Book,” 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

• July 26 – “Be a Smart Cookie! READ,” 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

• August 2 – “Be Bright, Read,” 6 to 8 p.m.

Westfield Elementary School

The media center will be open on dates to be announced after painting of the center has concluded.

White Plains Elementary School

Students who participate in “Scoop Up A Good Book!” summer reading program earn a free bookmark for every two books read and a free ice cream coupon for every five books read. Students who read ten books and who come to the media center at least one night earn a trip to the movies and popcorn.

The media center will be open:

• June 28 – 6 to 8 p.m.

• July 12 – 6 to 8 p.m.

• August 12 – 6 to 8 p.m.

Cedar Ridge Elementary School

Students who attend spirit nights at the Copper Pot will also get to choose a free book. The school’s Facebook page will be updated with dates.

Dobson Elementary School

Golden tickets will be placed in some of the school’s “Little Free Library” books, earning the winner prizes.

Mountain Park Elementary School

Students who attend at least four “Every Hero Has a Story” events will receive a t-shirt and certificate.

The four remaining events are scheduled for:

• June 30 – held at Welcome Valley Baptist Church at 10 a.m., featuring the book “10 Rules of Being a Superhero,” and a bouncy house.

• July 7 – “The Day I Lost My Superpowers”

• July 28 – “Superhero Max”

• August 4 – “Superhero School”

• August 18 – “Super Red Riding Hood”

The school’s Facebook page will be updated with times and locations.

Brian Leos, a rising third-grader at Rockford Elementary, poses for a photo with Deanne Fitzgerald, physical education teacher, at his school’s first book bus stop.
http://mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_160628_CountyReading-R1.jpgBrian Leos, a rising third-grader at Rockford Elementary, poses for a photo with Deanne Fitzgerald, physical education teacher, at his school’s first book bus stop. Submitted

The "Little Free Library" shown here is located outside Copeland Elementary School to provide easy access to free books over the summer. Each Surry County elementary school features a mini-library.
http://mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_160628_CountyReading-R2.jpgThe "Little Free Library" shown here is located outside Copeland Elementary School to provide easy access to free books over the summer. Each Surry County elementary school features a mini-library. Submitted

Kristi Calton, media coordinator at Rockford Elementary, reads to children at the first stop of the school’s book bus.
http://mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_160628_CountyReading-R3.jpgKristi Calton, media coordinator at Rockford Elementary, reads to children at the first stop of the school’s book bus.Submitted

By Terri Flagg

[email protected]

Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.

Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.

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