August 2011 Report

Library Director’s Report- August 2011

To end the summer and welcome students back, Fair Oaks Library had a “Back to School Kit” give away and gave away over 200 kits. The kits consist of a bag filled with a pencil box, pencils, crayons, erasers, pencil sharpener and a notebook. The students also received a free book from the Friends of the Library.  

Project READ hosted two Back to School supplies and backpack giveaway getting our children ready for another successful school year! With the help of generous Hands on Bay Area (HOBA) and Starbucks volunteers, we were able to give away brand new backpacks to each of our school-age children. For their Pre-K siblings, little ones were given fun, insulated lunch bags filled with crayons and board books. Students were excited to find the school supplies stuffed inside trendy backpacks. It was exciting to see the kids walking around proudly with their new backpacks n their backs.

 Thanks to the incredible generosity of Project READ donors, over 116 backpacks and 22 kiddies’ lunch bags were given out to KIP families. Students and parents continue to call and express their gratitude, explaining that if it had not been for the story hour and the continued support of dedicated contributors, their children would not have had a backpack or the necessary school supplies this year.

 Families for Literacy: At the annual Back-to-School Story Hour, one of the most popular programs for our families at the Downtown Library, we welcomed 130 FLIC & FFL students and families. We collaborated with the Redwood City School District to find out the necessary supplies for our students to help our learners be prepared for the year ahead. With the help our teen volunteers, we stuffed backpacks for all of our students with the required supplies, including folders, colored pencils, notebooks, erasers, pencils and glue sticks  – all the materials needed to get our kids off to a good start this school year. Project READ was able to give an additional 130 backpacks to our school age children and 32 Kiddies lunch bags to our Families for Literacy children!

A whopping 5,000 readers, including 800 teens, participated in this year’s Summer Reading program, reading at least 600 minutes over the summer for fun prizes. Prizes, and the Summer Reading Club itself, are incentives to keep kids reading over the long summer vacation. A significant amount of research shows that students who don’t pick up a book over the summer suffer “summer reading loss”, with students scoring significantly higher on standardized tests taken at the beginning of summer vacation than they do on the same tests taken at summer’s end. Naturally, the gap is even greater with students from low socio-economic families. The absence of summer school in Redwood City only makes the library’s program more crucial. The libraries also presented twenty-four programs over the summer, from puppets to a whip-cracking cowgirl; seven craft programs; and four programs from the Museum of Folk Arts. Over 2,000 people attended programs at the four libraries.

The library added a few excellent new web-based resources to our collections: Brainfuse Online Tutoring, Bookflix animated children’s books, and a greatly enhanced eBook and eaudiobook collection in our Digital Book Library.

Our Teen Advisory Council has been working with staff to plan workshops that the teens deem most important to them.

We are working with the California State Library, CALIFA, and the Link Americans Foundation to develop a new web platform designed to improve the digital literacy skills of adult patrons looking for employment online. We plan to have this platform ready for prime time beginning in December.

In August we have a break in our regular story time schedule but families at Fair Oaks were still coming in and asking about the programs. To address this, staff started Stories on Demand and 466 children participated. 

 The Shores Library has begun a collaborative effort to have afterschool and weekend advanced, hands-on science, math and language classes for youth in the library. In the works are a science project that would allow students to design an experiment to be conducted by astronauts in the international space station; Math in Action and Science in Action courses using NASA’s SmartSkies; and Fly by Math.

Through PLS, we will be going out to bid on the self-checkin and sorting systems for returned materials at the Downtown and Shores libraries.

Wonderful new lighting has been installed at the Downtown Library that is brighter (one of our biggest complaints) and more energy efficient.

Community events. The library participated in the North Fair Oaks Festival, Target Days, Farmer’s Market, several back to school events, including Hoover School’s first “Nuestra Escuela – Our School” event. The Hoover School event, of which the library is one of the most active partners, drew over 300 people family members.

The Homework Centers opened on August 29 at all four libraries, including the PRCS/Library afterschool program at Schaberg. The Homework Centers provide free, drop-in homework help and a quiet, supervised place to study. Plus crayons, puzzles, games, and activities for those times when homework is done, or a short break is needed!

 Excerpted below from the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, a huge issue especially in light of the latest statistic that 60% of the Redwood City School 3rd grade children are not reading proficiently at grade level.

Studies show students who don’t read on grade level by the end of 3rd grade are four times as likely to drop out of high school. We know if children don’t read well by that point they are less likely to catch up, less likely to graduate from high school, and less likely to find a good job. If we want to close our achievement gaps, reduce our high school dropout rate, and break the cycle of poverty in our community, we need to focus on our youngest readers. Nothing is more basic, more essential, more foundational and more important in a child’s success in life than her or his ability to read well.

Schools cannot succeed alone. We need health providers, social workers, community nonprofits, faith-based groups, business and civic leaders and local foundations to help.

The process of learning, and specifically learning to read, begins long before children reach the school house door. We need to make sure children are born healthy, that parents and child care providers have the latest information on child development, that every child has access to a good preschool program and that we align what we’re teaching in preschool with the early grades. Once kids get to school, we need to make sure they get great teaching, that they attend regularly, and that they keep learning through the summer.

Three challenges contribute to this problem; 1) school readiness – too many young children show up for school not ready to learn; 2) school attendance – too many children in grades K-3 miss too many days of school; and 3) summer learning – too many children in the early grades lose ground over the summer months.

  • Only 17 percent of kids who quality for free and reduced-price meals are reading on grade level by the end of third grade.
  • Of those kids who are behind, only 26 percent will ever catch up. So that means if you put a group of 100 low-income third graders on stage, initially only 17 would be reading on grade level by the end of the school year, and by high school only another 22 of them would be caught up. That’s a total of roughly 39 out 100 low-income kids.

School Readiness:

  • As early as 18 months, low-income children begin to fall behind in vocabulary development and other skills that are precursors for literacy and school success.
  • Kids need to be ready not just academically but also socially and emotionally. That means knowing how to sit at circle time and play well with others.
  • Parents play an enormous role in getting kids ready for school, as do daycare providers, pediatricians and preschools programs. Simply reading with a child goes a long way toward building their vocabulary and knowledge of the world around them, as well as an understanding that letters and sounds combine to make words and that words combine to create sentences and ideas.

Chronic Absence:

We tend to think of poor attendance as a high school truancy problem but the reality is that one in 10 kindergarten students are chronically absent, missing nearly a month of school every year.

  • Even at that early age, attendance begins to affect achievement.
  • Poor children are more likely to be chronically absent and more likely to feel the academic effects of missing so much school.
  • While some middle-class students learn to read at home, low-income kids often need school to learn to read. And literacy lessons are front-loaded in kindergarten and first grade.

Summer Learning Loss:

  • Too many kids are losing ground over the summer, particularly our low-income children.
  • While all kids slip a little in math, middle-income kids tend to gain reading skills over the summer. Poor kids, though, lose more than 2 months in reading over each summer in the elementary years.
  • A study of Baltimore students found that by the end of fifth grade, low-income students read at a level almost three grades behind that of middle-income students. By ninth grade, summer learning loss over the five preceding years accounted for more than half of the difference in reading skills.” This squanders the hard-fought gains these children made over the school year. And it widens the achievement gap that separates them from more-affluent peers.
  • We need to work with our schools, libraries and other community partners to give disadvantaged kids more options for meaningful summer learning.

What to Do:

  • The good news is that we know how to actually solve this problem. Grade-level reading is by no means a new issue and there are concrete, specific solutions that can fix this problem…
  • That’s not true for every problem we face as a country – some problems feel intractable and unsolvable…But getting kids to read on grade level is NOT one of them.
  • We know a lot about what works. We have proven results and great research evidence. Simply put – all of our kids have the potential to do it – it takes quality opportunities delivered consistently over time….
  • It takes quality early care from birth to age 3; quality preschool; great teaching; great afterschool and summer programs; ready access to an appropriate selection of books from the library; attending school at high levels… Readiness, attendance, and summer learning are all parts of this continuum of education and care that needs to be in place, from birth to age 8.
  • We have been working for a long time to ensure our youngest learners have a bright start. We can’t let budget cuts and changed priorities chip away at the progress we’ve made. Our collaborative effort, bringing together the entire community, will ensure we devote the attention and resources needed so that early learning receives the attention and resources to create the seamless, inter-connected experiences and opportunities children need from birth to 8 years old.

Project READ August 2011 Monthly Accomplishments

The Project READ staff presented Anita Arias and Mariann Jackson with the “Spirit of Project READ” award at the annual Project READ Awards Ceremony and BBQ.  As a learner and tutor pair, they’ve accomplished a lot through hard work, dedication and lots of enjoyable tutoring sessions.  They are a true dynamic duo.  Individually, these two ladies are part of the fabric of Project READ.  They both devote a lot of time to Project READ and always seem to be smiling and enjoying themselves.  Currently Mariann also tutors three other learners.  We are very grateful to Mariann for her dedication to the Project READ goal of a literate community by 2020. 

Fun and educational activities for all ages!  Crafts were a hit at the BBQ.  The children were hard at work on four different simple crafts that their parents are easily to recreate at home with their children for their family craft and reading time.  Over 125 excited children received a board book copy of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Our children ranging in age from pre-school through middle school look forward to receiving their family book and also selecting books at the Project READ story hours each month to build their home libraries.  Many of our parents are practicing and improving their reading skills by reading these books to their children each day.

Project READ Adult-Inmate Peer Tutoring program  –  This month we finished a 27 hour Tutor Training class at the Women’s Correctional Center (WCC) with all 9 inmate tutors successfully graduating the class.   This training is a challenging class that is offered at the WCC.  Each of the women who successfully completed the class will receive a unit of transferable college credit through Cañada College after tutoring their Project READ learner a minimum of 24 hours under the guidance of the Project READ Staff and AmeriCorps member.

 Two of the Project READ learners met their goal this by passing the GED tests and receiving their General Education Diploma.  Their next goal…. College classes.

Project READ was able to provide 40 novels at various reading levels to start building an in-facility library for the women housed at Women’s Transitional Facility.   The Women’s Transitional Facility is a new program of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office designed to help women who are eligible for release or to programs.  Project READ if collaborating with the Sheriff’s office to provide the appropriate educational programs to prepare the women for a successful transition. 

Project READ organized a start up of services to the Women’s Transitional Facility with various small group instruction literacy programs.  The writing group has met 3 times this month, for 1.5 hours each session.  The group has worked on using a journal to organize thoughts, tips and techniques for goal setting, and completed affirmation poetry workshop.  One woman said, “I hope you can find a way to sustain this class for the future.”  Another woman commented the she appreciated the inclusive nature of the class, stating, “We’re all at different ages and different reading levels, but it seems like everyone is getting something out of the group.

Project READ redesigned the Poetry and Creative Writing small group classes that are offered at the Women’s Transitional Facility in addition to the tutoring and other workshops that are current pilot programs offered at the facility.  This class not only focuses on non-violent communication and creative writing, but also builds vocabulary.   The inmate learners are able to include their poetry and artwork in a Poetry anthology that will be created at the conclusion of classes.

Our family literacy programs designed to help our inmate learners improve their reading skills and read to their children while incarcerated is offered at the WCC. The  Mothers & Families learners completed 16 hours of instruction in literacy and nonviolent parenting skills.

We mailed more than 30 new children’s books with recordings of the parent reading the book aloud to the children of incarcerated men and women at the San Mateo County Correctional Facilities.  This program give inmate parents a way to improve their literacy skills, learn non violent parenting techniques and continue to be a part of their children’s lives through recorded books read by the inmate parent and the book sent home to build the child’s home library.  Project READ was also able to provide 45 children’s books for the women to practice during the week and read to their children during child’s visit on Sunday.

And finally an article from the Patch:

Anyone who has been a 15-year-old girl knows: girls can be vicious. Having a displaced curl or shoes that don’t quite match to the latest Teen Vogue issue can lead to high school humiliation.

But for 15-year-old Chelsea Lollar, the only criticism she receives from her peers is that she’s just too nice.

“I want to be different,” Lollar said. “I don’t want to fade into the back, but I want to do it in a special way.”

Lollar’s kindhearted nature led her to become a volunteer with Project READ, a tutoring and literacy program at the Redwood City library. She began tutoring K-8 students this year as a way to make a difference.

“I don’t just like to tutor, I make them my little friends,” Lollar said, “I just enjoy seeing their smiles and seeing them happy.”

The Sequoia High School sophomore has a deep love for reading, a fan of the Hunger Games and the Blue Blood series; she has always been a child of the library.

“They’re like a big family here,” Lollar said of the Redwood City library.

Her father, Stewart Lollar, has worked at the local library for more than 25 years. Her family’s strong enthusiasm for helping others has fueled her desire to become as positive a role model for others as her family has been for her.

“My family always puts other people before them, and I try to do that,” she said.

But Stewart Lollar said he simply got lucky with a child who has a drive to better her surroundings.

“We’re just really lucky she’s someone who just wants to do the right thing,” he said. “She’s her own motivator, we’re just her keepers.”

Stewart Lollar describes his daughter as a very honest person and a concerned perfectionist.

“She’s been a leader since she was too young to even lead anyone,” Stewart Lollar said.

Though the younger students are grateful for Chelsea’s service, many of her friends can’t understand why each week she spends at least four hours tutoring younger kids, Chelsea said.

“They might not understand it now,” she said. “But it gives you a sense of gratitude.”

After each tutoring session, Chelsea said she feels a great sense of happiness from knowing that she has made a positive impact that day.

Though she is not set on which profession she wishes to pursue in the future, tutoring has also made her recognize her love for helping children.

“Working with kids I have so many more options,” she said.

While not tutoring, Chelsea loves to cook and dance for several dance teams throughout Redwood City. She also has an interest in journalism and, of course, working with children.

Though she is only about to begin her second year at Sequoia High, she has worked diligently in her advanced placement classes.

Chelsea is also in the process of learning Spanish in an effort to lessen the language barrier between her and some of the students she tutors.

“I don’t think they need to change for me, I need to change for them,” Chelsea said of learning Spanish for her students.

A mother of one of the Project READ students is currently tutoring Chelsea.

As she continues growing in years and experience, Chelsea only hopes to remain true to herself and to continue to be a role model to the students of Project READ.

“I hope they walk away with the same feeling I do,” she said. “I want them to feel accomplished.”


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