One of the new projects for the Education Fellow team has been to create interactive book bags that K-1 can use to accompany their reading. The following is a Story of Service submitted by Julie Pittman, highlighting her experience creating these wonderful bags for the Learning Community students.
“Most of my day is set to the soundtrack of children’s voices – raised in laughter on the playground and cafeteria, hushed in thought in the classroom, or sometimes a mix of the two in the small group enrichment classes that I teach. However, for a month of my service this year, I’ve spent a part of each day in silence, working on book bags that expand on a classic children’s book with activities that build family literacy and engagement.
Serving at The Learning Community, a K-8 public school, I have learned a tremendous amount about how a school can bridge the achievement gap in very low income communities (90% of our students qualify for free or reduced price lunch). Putting those lessons into practice, it has been a joy to see how my book bags will bring literacy alive for an entire Kindergarten and its families.
Building little puppets for Caps for Sale or sewing a whole gardening kit for The Carrot Seed, I have imagined the time when students learn to open books and see whole worlds come alive. As I’ve written discussion prompts and made up word games to accompany the books, I have dreamed of the moments when families communicating across Spanish and English discover the music of words in each (75% of our students live in Spanish speaking homes). And handing the completed book bags over to our Kindergarten teachers and Reading Specialists, I have been able to understand how my year of service will forward in the lives of my students and their families for years to come.”