Feed and Read Program deemed a success

ELKINS — Over the summer, an initiative led by teachers and staff from Randolph County Schools offered a special reading program for young learners.

After great success last year, the Mobile Feed and Read Program in Randolph County invited youngsters and their parents to enjoy a good book over the summer.

Randolph County Schools Director of Federal Programs and Curriculum Amy Rowan Smith said a statewide campaign — with the goal of ensuring students have access to books and other educational opportunities — may help to prevent learning loss over the summer.

“For the past several years, Randolph County Schools and all of the other counties in the state have received funding through a grant called Campaign for Grade Level Reading, and one of the primary purposes of that grant is to help alleviate summer learning loss that might occur with students who don’t have access to books, materials or activities throughout the summer,” she said.

According to Smith, the components of the program focus on school readiness, attendance, extended learning and high-quality instruction.

“Here is the premise of if — the campaign is based on the belief that schools cannot succeed alone,” she said. “As such, it promotes family and community partnerships to remove barriers, expand opportunities and assist parents and families in assuring student success.”

Smith added there were three important steps in improving students’ reading abilities including getting books into the hands of children, regularly reading aloud to children and preventing summer learning loss which she believes is accomplished through the Mobile Feed and Read program.

Each weekday throughout the duration of the program, a Mobile Feed and Read bus traveled throughout the county, making stops in outlying communities to provide children access to free books, a small snack, and a short read-aloud activity.

A school bus, filled with a wide array of books and driven by RCS driver Steve Collins, visited small communities in the county to better serve students who may not otherwise have access to summer learning experiences.

With grant assistance, mathematics activities were incorporated in to the summer program in Randolph County.

Smith emphasized that approximately 500 students in the county were served by the program in the following school zones: North Elementary School, Jennings Elementary School, George Ward Elementary School, Third Ward Elementary School, Harman School, Pickens School and Coalton Elementary School. She noted some funding is provided to Beverly Elementary School as they operate their own program, the Beverly Book Mobile.

Smith said Kelly Judy and Stacie Friddle, two teachers in the county, in addition to Collins, are passionate about the program.

“This program is great and wonderful and a lot of people could ride the bus and do the program, but I don’t know many people who could ride that bus and make the program what it is without the heart of those three people,” Smith said. “They truly care about what they are doing and helping students who don’t have access to resources.

“They come back everyday and tell me these amazing stories of the success that they have seen and the joy they have seen on the kids’ faces,” Smith said. “I don’t know that we could replace those three.”

Books and snacks are available to children age birth to 18 years.

The program is funded by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading/WV Leaders of Literacy Grant, which is offered through the West Virginia Department of Education.