Art to be added to Bookworms program

The Education Foundation’s Bookworms program is getting an upgrade with the addition of an art element next school year.

Celeste Potter, foundation director, said it comes courtesy of a partnership with the Ellen Noel Art Museum.

“The Bookworms literacy program gives a free book every month to students in the district in grades pre-k, kinder and first grade. Next year for the ‘21-22 school year, we’re going to be partnering with the museum to bring an art component to every story. So for every book that we provide the children, the art museum is putting together an art activity,” Potter said.

The initiative will offer art to ECISD’s prekindergarten, kindergarten and first grade classes.

“It also gets those students ready for the Art to Go program that’s funded by the art museum in the second grade. And it’s also a great opportunity for volunteers, because not only will I need a volunteer to go into the schools next year and read that story, I’ll need another volunteer to go in and do this hands-on art activity that ties to the story,” Potter said.

Art to Go is a program from the Ellen Noel that brings art into ECISD schools starting in second grade.

“This will just be a great resource to really introduce the students to those concepts that they’ll need in the second grade. That way … we’ll just jump right in and know exactly what’s going on. And all of these activities are not going to be very complex because we’re dealing with pre-k, kinder and first grade students. So it might be construction paper and glue and scissors,” Potter said.

She added that museum Educator Annie Stanley already has a list of the books they have started purchasing for next year and will be building the projects. Potter said the foundation will provide all of the supplies.

“We are planning to impact 9,000 students. That’s what we’re working toward. This will include the 3 year olds that are coming to ECISD in partnership with the YMCA, and it will also include the kindergarten, first grade students at IDEA charter school that’s partnering with the district as well,” Potter said.

The books are being purchased through Scholastic at $1 each. “So 9,000 kids, $9,000 bucks a month, with the art supplies we’re averaging $5 a student per month,” she added.

This will be completely funded by the Education Foundation.

Bookworms is meant to be interactive and not just an occasion when someone comes to read a story to the students.

“… We want this book to become what the district is calling an anchor book, meaning the kids will touch, read and feel this book five times before it goes home. So you’ll have a volunteer reader come in and read the story; you’ll have an art component; you’ll have a writing component; that might be a worksheet. For example in pre-k, if they’re reading the Little Sunflower it might be practicing writing an uppercase and lowercase ‘S’for sunflower; kindergarten maybe writing the word sunflower; in first grade (it) would be building a sentence, and then there’ll be two other readings in the classroom with the teacher …, however the teacher wants to do it,” Potter said.

“We’re working very closely with the district to provide training for all of our teachers impacted through this program in the summer right before school begins so that they understand this valuable resource that’s coming to their classroom and how they can utilize it for student success,” she added.

Complex Community Federal Credit Union puts a donation sticker on every book and prepares them for the schools.

May 18 is Permian Basin Gives Day. On that day, every dollar the Education Foundation receives is going toward supporting this program, whether that’s purchasing the books, the art supplies or whatever else is needed.

Saulsbury Industries is going to match the donations to the foundation that day up to $500.

“If you give us $1 that day, it turns into $3,” Potter said.

One of the foundation’s biggest fundraisers, a concert, was not held last year and won’t be held this year due to COVID so the organization needs extra help. It also has hired a grant writer.