Nothing can get in the way of Sparks Elementary teachers who want to get books into the hands of their Virtual Academy students.
It was a cold Friday afternoon in January, with highs in the 40s and wind gusts up to 34 mph, that Sparks teachers happily greeted students and their parents who queued up for bags of books.
“I would say we are sending out about 2,000 books today and are prepared to switch them out in another two weeks,” said Carrie Dellinger, Sparks Elementary principal. “It is very important to all of our teachers that our readers have access to a high volume of ‘just right’ books!
Many elementary campuses are taking up initiatives similar to this and it’s all about serving students and making sure they all have equal access to our resources.”
Sparks Elementary has about a dozen Virtual Academy teachers who serve nearly 350 students. Each teacher considered the needs of each student and assembled a book bag aligned to the reading level and interests of each student.
“We are ecstatic to have the opportunity to provide books for our Virtual Academy students and I can’t wait to see how their reading adventures continue to soar this semester,” said Abby Parrent, a Sparks Elementary second grade teacher.
In a district known for attending to the name and needs of each child, the excitement of the students and their parents driving up to receive their carefully selected books was palpable.
Some students hung out the windows as they approached, while others were quick to jump out and run to the carts with all of the books. Many dressed up for the occasion and some brought their pets, but what was consistent from child to child were the smiles and feelings of excitement that were palpable through their masks.
“The kids are thrilled with this book bag and the opportunity to meet the teacher on campus,” said Prithhika Srinivasan, a Sparks Elementary parent.
Some parents had a mini parent-teacher conference, while others had their child pose for socially distant photos with their personalized book selection and teacher.
“I am so proud of the teachers at Sparks who put students first and have sought creative solutions to make sure all students have equal access to books,” Dellinger said. “Online resources are fantastic and definitely have a place in learning, but nothing replaces an actual book you can hold in your hands.”
While each bag had books, many also included notes of support and encouragement from their teachers, book marks and even material for upcoming lessons. It was clear that the book bags were made with thoughtful care and love.