It might not be warm outside yet, but bookworms all over Toledo are fired up to celebrate National
Reading Month in March.
That might be owed, in part, to UT’s Women & Philanthropy and the Judith Herb College of Education for Women & Philanthropy’s 2017 Holiday Project titled, “Encouraging Early Literacy.”
Dorothea Sawicki, the 2017 Holiday Project chair, said that members of Women & Philanthropy pay dues to the society to help people in need. In 2013, they took on the idea of raising funds to do something over the holidays.
Amongst their efforts, they collected money to buy stuffed bears for kids at the UTMC hospital and have also bought mittens, gloves and blankets for children in Toledo, Sawicki said.
“The Toledo Blade has had a number of articles over the last year about the need for extra effort in helping young children learning to read and the importance of early literacy,” Sawicki said.
Sawicki is also a professor and vice provost for Health Science Affairs and University Accreditation. She said the Judith Herb College of Education is an expert in early childhood education that already offers several different after-school reading activities for elementary students in Toledo Public Schools.
“The second grade is critical,” Sawicki said. “The third year, about this time, they take a proficiency test in math and English, so if we are going to give these young people a whole year to work on that, it’d be best to put our efforts into the second year.”
She went on to say that by picking one of the first three grades to focus on, they were able to further extend their money into more classrooms in more schools.
“We also wanted to make sure we had books representing a range of cultures and ethnicities. We want the children to be able to see themselves in the books,” said Jenny Denyer, faculty advisor to Virginia Keil and interim dean to the Judith Herb College of Education.
Scholastic dollars earned by the Judith Herb College of Education from a book fair nearly three years ago added to the money Women & Philanthropy raised for the project Keil said.
The combination raised $6,800 to donate approximately 1,000 books to 33 second-grade classrooms at 19 Toledo Public Schools Sawicki said.
“We gave a little over $200 in books to each classroom,” Sawicki said.
Two after-school activities hosted by the Judith Herb College of Education are held at Old Orchard Elementary School, where Women & Philanthropy Chair Marcy McMahon joined TPS superintendent Romules Durant at 10:30 a.m. on March 15 to present the books Sawicki said.
“When the kids saw the books on the table, they swarmed,” Denyer said.
Keil said that Women & Philanthropy already announced that it is their intention to have the 2018 holiday project be a collection of dollars to purchase books for the remaining second-grade classrooms in Toledo Public Schools.
“Our students are placed at Old Orchard for field experience and student teaching, and this provided us with an opportunity to focus our students’ attention on the importance of not just going to a school, but becoming a part of a school in a very different way,” Keil said.