By Harry Freeman
For the Daily News
Starkville Reads recently announced the awarding of $250 Bebe Fund Grants to four local public school teachers to support creative projects to improve their students' reading abilities.
Recipients of this year's awards are Elaine Warren, and Brooke Frericks, Sudduth Elementary School, Ms. Susan Allen, West Oktibbeha County High School, and Ms. Pam Perry , West Oktibbeha County Elementary School.
Warren says, " I would like to begin a book club for my students to get them more involved in reading for pleasure. I plan to purchase a few copies each of age appropriate popular books and have the students form groups of four to six students to discuss the stories and generally evaluate the books. I want my students to understand that their opinions are valuable and should be shared with other students"
Frericks plans to use her grant to purchase materials that will enable the students in her special education preschool class to utilize all the senses a child naturally uses to make reading a more concrete concept. Tactile, visual, and auditory learners will explore letters through the SENSEational Alphabet book, Tactile Letters, and a Talking Pen. Each page of the SENSEational Alphabet Book, contains one letter represented by Braille, manipulatives, or textures to utilize the sense of touch, or a sound to utilize the sense of hearing, or a scratch and sniff area to utilize the sense of smell. This will allow all students, regardless of disability or learning style to access each letter.
Frericks says "It is my hope that this project will bring a joy and imagination back to reading for our younger students. "
Allen plans to use her grant to provide partial support for a dramatic presentation at West Oktibbeha County High School of Romeo and Juliet by the New Stage Theatre of Jackson. The drama is staged in a 1950's high school setting and deals with issues that have transcended time: youthful passion, parental disapproval, gang violence, and teen suicide. Allen says that the New Stage Theatre has tentatively agreed to a mid January or February 2011 performance. Allen says, " It should be great. You are all invited, too. "
Perry, a kindergarten teacher plans to use her grant to expand her "Reading Buddies" program in which she pairs her kindergarten students with sixth grade students for them to read together. She says that Reading Buddy time is extremely popular with both the older and younger students. She would like to use part of her grant to enable her to take both classes on a field trip to the Children's Museum in Memphis. She said, " Our students do not have a lot of opportunities to see things outside of this area. I’d love to get them excited about reading. The possibilities are endless if they fall in love with reading at an early age."
Nancy Hargrove, President of Starkville Reads says, “"These grants provide teachers in our public schools with the funds to undertake creative and imaginative projects to promote books and reading.” The Bebe Fund is administered by Starkville Reads in memory of the late Bebe Freeman, a retired public school teacher and Starkville resident. Starkville Reads is an all voluntary organization whose mission is to encourage more reading in the community.
For information on Starkville Reads programs and events visit www.starkvillereads.org .