Hobbs elementary students to be offered five library books this summer
With an aroma of steak and baked potatoes, the Edison Elementary faculty and staff celebrated the end of the school year Wednesday.
Edison principal Pat Duran, librarian Julie Rodriguez and Hobbs Superintendent TJ Parks sat next to each other while everyone enjoyed their hearty meals. Soon after, Rodriguez addressed the faculty and staff.
“Mr. Parks has been telling us about something new,” Rodriguez said. “He read an article that said students in schools where there are lots of kids on free or reduced lunches progress at about the same rate during the school year, but they lose more over the summer break than kids at richer schools lose. So, he’s mandated that every student in an elementary school in Hobbs be allowed to check out five books to take home this summer.”
“What if they don’t bring them back?” one teacher asked.
“That will be all right,” Rodriguez said. “The object is to get the books into students’ hands and hope they read this summer.”
Thursday, Parks said sending books home with students is not part of a defined program, but is the result of an article he read.
“This author said that if kids take 10 books home in the summer, they don’t lose as much reading skills. We looked at our school libraries and decided we didn’t have enough books in each grade level to send 10 books, so we decided on five.”
Parks said in schools that have tried sending books home with students, 90 percent of them have come back.
“We think we’ll have that kind of return. And we’re going to offer an incentive. If a student brings back every book, we’ll give a day pass to the CORE (Center of Recreational Excellence),” Parks said.
As for the problem of replacing books that might not come back, Parks said the J. F Maddox Foundation offered $5,000 to each Hobbs school library that participated in the program.
“They didn’t make this offer before we decided to try this,” Parks said. “(The) Maddox (Foundation) is interested in early literacy programs. And I believe that being a good reader is the key to success in school and career. I’m really excited about this. We’ve already ordered book bags for the kids to use when they check out their books. I think it will be a great thing for kids. What we’re in business for is kids.”
That’s the attitude Edison teachers expressed at Wednesday’s celebration. Each of them received a black T-shirt emblazoned in gold letters with a command to both students and teachers.
“Be amazing, brave, inspiring, unstoppable, the difference,” it reads.
“I’m not waiting to wear this T-shirt,” one teacher said. “I’m wearing it tomorrow.”