Spotlight on a Year of the Book School: JFK Elementary School in Winooski, VT

Posted by on October 23, 2018.

Last week, JFK Elementary School English Language Learners spent a beautiful fall day at the Clemmons Family Farm in Charlotte, VT, listening to stories, making bean pies, and learning about African American art and culture. This special field trip was a memorable experience for these kids, who come from all over the world and are part of the Winooski elementary school’s Newcomers program.

Students who attended the field trip said,

“I like hearing the story about her dad.”
“I like to cook because it’s fun.”
“I am ecstatic because of the cooking and rolling down the hill.”
“I like making the pie, eating some and taking it home.”
“I like the African art.”
“We liked singing ‘Shoo Fly’ to Lydia and Shanta.”
This field trip was made possible by a mini-grant provided by CLiF as part of the school’s Year of the Book program.
Enjoying the view at Clemmons Family Farm

 

JFK Elementary School in Winooski, VT is one of the five VT schools (along with 5 New Hampshire schools) chosen for CLiF’s Year of the Book program this school year.

In their application, the school staff wrote, “JFK Elementary is the most diverse school in the state. We have over 28 languages spoken within the district, and a very high poverty rate. We are the only minority majority school in the state, meaning our non-Caucasian students outnumber our Caucasian students. Our demographics in and of themselves make us a unique place.” Winooski is a federal Refugee Resettlement Site, so students from all over the world attend JFK Elementary School. 40% of JFK students are English Language Learners. Many of these students have few or no books at home, so they’ll be able to accrue their own home libraries this year, thanks to the grant.

The CLiF Year of the Book provides selected elementary schools in VT and NH with $25,000 in literacy programming, including:

  • Inspiring author visits and workshops with CLiF’s talented presenters
  • Family Literacy events, such as free community dinners with storytelling and a discussion on sharing books together
  • Fun new classroom projects
  • Mini-grants that fund programming, such as field trips and other fun programs, that connects literacy to the real world
  • New books for the school library
  • New books for the local public library
  • New books for classrooms
  • TEN new books for each child to choose

So far already this school year, JFK students have heard stories from storyteller Duncan McDougall, picked out their first new book, and learned about other cultures.

JFK Librarian Matt Giles says, “The Year of the Book program has our students and faculty excited about books! Duncan’s Kickoff event was the perfect way to start the year. He had a room of 140 4th & 5th graders so engaged in the story he was reading that you could hear his footsteps as he silently acted out a character walking a tightrope. Because of the Mini-Grants our ELL [Engligh Language Learner] Newcomer classes got to visit the Clemmons’ Family Farm (see photos above) and make bean pies while learning about African-American culinary traditions. I am excited about the amazing authors, illustrators, and poets that our students will have the opportunity to meet this year, and I cannot wait to see how our community is transformed when every child has their own library at home!”

They have lots more to look forward to this school year, such as visits from author Tracey Campbell Pearson and poet Rajnii Eddins, storytelling/writing workshops with author Natalie Kinsey-Warnock and poet Ted Scheu, and a free Family Literacy Night dinner and discussion.
A JFK parent said after the Year of the Book kick-off event, “There are opportunities that will open for kids from this and other CLiF initiatives that just would not arise otherwise.  It is exciting to think about the sparks that will be ignited from the books the kids chose today.”

CLiF presenter author/illustrator Jason Chin also visited JFK Elementary through our Summer Readers program this past summer. Check out the video here.


Is your school interested in applying for the CLiF Year of the Book for the 2019-2020 school year? Contact Meredith with any questions. Applications open up on www.clifonline.org in December.

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