Some students in Bellingham Public Schools are part of a summer books program and receive packages of books in the mail once a month in June, July and August to encourage them to keep reading over the summer months. Students are selected for the Learning Assistance Program (LAP) based on assessments and reading data collected by teachers and reading intervention specialists at our elementary schools. Students will bring the books back to school when schools reopen.
This summer, the books were mailed to included eligible students in all 14 elementary schools, which was expanded from the original five Title 1 schools. Given the challenging situation due to the pandemic closure this spring, students at all of our elementary schools benefited from this year’s book program.
The LAP program is coordinated within the Department of Teaching and Learning with support from reading intervention specialists/reading teachers at each school. The LAP team consists of Stephanie Korn, Director of Teaching and Learning, administrative assistant Phyllis Crouse, special program data specialist Deb Hampton and the reading intervention specialists at each elementary school. These specialists include Lisa Cassidy, Rayna Brandon and Nicole Lingbloom at Alderwood; Donna Aarstol, Yvonne Doyle and Marcie Pittman at Birchwood; Jodi Kinzel, Jennifer Trople, Lisa D’Hondt and Michelle Mitchell at Carl Cozier; Lisabeth Chalmers at Columbia; Danielle Hunter, Barb DelWraa, Emily Revard and Michelle Hornof at Cordata; Erin Connolly at Geneva; Carrie Vining at Happy Valley; Precious Bryngelson at Lowell; Michelle Mitchell at Northern Heights; Jennifer Percival at Parkview; Lisa Aucutt and Melissa Peterson at Roosevelt; Ally Alexander at Silver Beach; Lisa D’Hondt at Sunnyland; and Sara Swetish at Wade King
The summer books program began several years ago because data shows that students who continue reading during their summer break from school are less likely to experience a big summer slide in literacy. When students read over the summer, they are practicing all the skills they have been working to develop over the school year, which is important to help them maintain their reading levels during the break.
Books are hand-selected for each student by our reading intervention specialists at the elementary schools. Selections are based on student reading levels and personal interests. During summer 2020, more than 17,000 books will be mailed to 1,400 students at all 14 of our elementary schools. Each student participating received an average of 12 books each.
Book distribution was a coordinated effort between the district’s warehouse and shipping operations, the print shop and each of the elementary schools. Throughout the summer, packages were assembled by reading intervention specialists and other school staff and then delivered back to the District Office for each month’s mailing.