RACINE — Eight years ago Southern Federal Programs director Scott Wolfe wanted to “do something for the kids” at Christmas. The idea came up about giving kids a book.
Wolfe and Federal Programs secretary Vicki Northup began giving students at Southern’s K-8 Elementary each a book for Christmas. After this year’s excursion from class to class, nearly 4,500 books have gone to Southern Elementary students over the past eight years.
“I told Vicki, I wanted to do something extra for the kids,” said Wolfe. “Sure we had our Holiday parties and we had our seasonal plays, but I wanted to give a little more. Something with a personal touch. “
Vicki said, “Why not give the kids a book?”
“I said without much hesitation—‘great idea’! and thought, ‘what better way to give something back to the kids than the gift of reading?’ And that’s been the cornerstone of what we do each and every Christmas.”
Not only does Wolfe give Northup credit for the idea, but he praised her for all the hard work that she does behind the scenes. “Practically every single activity that goes on at the school, Vicki takes part in it in some fashion. She’s the go-to person when it comes to getting anything from artwork to supplies to certificates or in this case, books!”
“It’s even fun for me to pass out the books,” noted Northup. “It’s to the point now that some classes cheer when they see us walk into the room. It’s fun and meaningful for all of us and a chance for us to give.”
K-3 Principal Tricia McNickle joined the Reading theme this year and read a couple versions of “The Night Before Christmas” often pausing to take some time for those “teachable moments” with the classes. Literacy Coach Meg Guinther has also been reading in classrooms, and helped in leveling the books for the Christmas book project.
One of the projects of the Literacy Team has been creating and supplying a “book room”. Guinther has been instrumental in building this resource room and the administrative team recently requested funding to purchase new sets of leveled reading materials.
As Wolfe passes out the books, he also gives what he calls “The Importance of Reading” speech. Wolfe takes about five to ten minutes to school students on why it is important to be able to read.
He said, “Practice makes perfect, and the more you read the better you are going to get at reading. You may not be the best reader now, but if you practice and work hard you can someday be the best reader.”
He also cites that Reading can be fun; that kids can read for enjoyment or they may need to read to get information. This year he used the example of “Reading the Directions” in order to put together something he received as a gift for Christmas. “If you can read, no matter what situation you are in or what type of problem you are faced with—even math—-if you can read, you can probably figure it out.”
The “give-a-book” campaign is paid for through bookfair credits the school gets from Scholastic. The Bookfair and its proceeds helps compliment the Title I program and learning-to-read endeavors. Wolfe credits Northup, Librarian Lori Warden, Meg Guinther, Computer tech Elizabeth Johnson, the Southern Teaching staff, the PTO, and the many volunteers that help make the bookfair a success.
Thursday, Wolfe noted in the third grade classroom that he had taught Ms. Beth Bay, the reading teacher, in reading class at Eastern and that he also taught Mrs. Rachel Hupp, the 3rd grade Math teacher in school at Southern. Title one tutor Dolly Wolfe spoke up and said to Wolfe, “And I taught him (Mr. Wolfe) in Reading.”
McNickle was praised for the numerous behind-the- scene things she does to promote reading and learning in the primary grades; and the extra endeavors she has taken to encourage students to take pride in the school. Mr. Kent Wolfe was recognized for supporting the reading programs at the Intermediate Level.
Besides gaining Scholastic dollars, the school accepts Soup Labels, Box Tops, and Pop Can tabs to help support the Literacy Program.