Soufriere Pri­mary School Reaps Lit­er­acy Award

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Rec­og­niz­ing the pas­sion and ded­i­ca­tion of the school’s staff and stu­dents to lit­er­acy and the cre­ation of a vi­brant school li­brary, Soufriere Pri­mary School has been awarded the 2014-2015 Hands Across the Sea Lit­er­acy Award for St. Lu­cia. The prize is U.S. $1,000 in brand new books of the school’s choice.

Soufriere Pri­mary School is a pro­gres­sive, child-friendly school with a great li­brary and a gifted, highly com­mit­ted staff— Prin­ci­pal Gill and his teach­ers are ded­i­cated to rais­ing the lit­er­acy level of their stu­dents. The li­brary is a wel­com­ing, com­fort­able, and in­vig­o­rat­ing place for the chil­dren. The teacher in charge (and chief cre­ative ar­chi­tect) of the li­brary, Ms. Cecilia Clo­vis, re­ports: “Our boys have be­come hooked on books like Hor­rid Henry and Cap­tain Un­der­pants. Our girls are in love with Ju­nie B. Jones and Magic Tree House.” Other favourites in­clude A-Z Mys­ter­ies, Magic School Bus, Nancy Drew, and Goose­bumps. Stu­dents are also en­cour­aged to read widely, a goal made pos­si­ble by the broad range of books sup­plied by Hands Across the Sea.

Hands Across the Sea first shipped new books to the school for the 2011-2012 school year, and fol­lowed that up with ship­ments for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years. With the re­cent Oc­to­ber, 2014 ship­ment, the school now has over 1,600 brand new books from Hands. As win­ners of the 2014-2015 Hands Lit­er­acy Award for St. Lu­cia, the school will re­ceive an ad­di­tional ship­ment of new books worth U.S $1,000.

Hands Across the Sea’s co­founder and ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Har­riet Linskey said, “There is no doubt that im­proved lit­er­acy skills open the door to a bet­ter life, and the prin­ci­pal, Mr. Felix Gill, and his staff and stu­dents are demon­strat­ing a strong com­mit­ment to pro­mot­ing read­ing and writ­ing by the cre­ation of this beau­ti­ful li­brary.” Hands Across the Sea has served 14,120 chil­dren at 55 St. Lu­cia pri­mary and sec­ondary schools and read­ing pro­grams since 2010, send­ing 40,300 new books.

As part of each year’s Hands Wish Lists, ed­u­ca­tors spec­ify the types of books most needed for their school. “We be­lieve that lit­er­acy is a right for ev­ery child,” says Hands Across the Sea’s Pro­gram/Op­er­a­tions Direc­tor, Amanda Dom­bach. “We feel re­ally hon­oured to be able to part­ner with amaz­ing schools, like Soufriere Pri­mary School, who share this be­lief and are com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that their stu­dents are able to de­velop strong read­ing and writ­ing skills. By re­ceiv­ing feed­back from teach­ers and prin­ci­pals on the spe­cific needs of the school and its stu­dents we are able to not only sup­port the school’s cur­ricu­lum and teacher’s les­son plans, but also pro­vide stu­dents with en­gag­ing and cul­tur­ally rel­e­vant books that will help them to de­velop a love of read­ing.”

In St. Lu­cia the Hands Across the Sea team is ably rep­re­sented by Jacqueline Vi­dal-Atherly, the res­i­dent Hands Lit­er­acy Link for St. Lu­cia, who as­sists schools with ev­ery­thing from hands-on re­ju­ve­na­tion of their li­brary space to help­ing teach­ers and li­brar­i­ans help raise child lit­er­acy lev­els through their school li­brary.

Hands Across the Sea is ded­i­cated to rais­ing the lit­er­acy lev­els of Eastern Caribbean chil­dren. Since found­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion in 2007, Hands Across the Sea has shipped over 173,000 books to the re­gion through its Caribbean Lit­er­acy and School Sup­port (CLASS) pro­gram. The CLASS pro­gram, in con­cert with each school’s Hands Wish Lists (school prin­ci­pals, teach­ers, and U.S. Peace Corps Vol­un­teers tell Hands which books they need). CLASS works in three ways: 1. Send Great New Books; 2. Cre­ate Bor­row­ing Li­braries (usu­ally a school li­brary); and 3. Foster Sus­tain­abil­ity of the li­brary through sup­port at the school and from the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

On the is­land, Hands Across the Sea part­ners with the U.S. Peace Corps, the San­dals Foun­da­tion, Sco­tia­bank Bright Fu­ture, the Money­Gram Foun­da­tion, and car­ing fam­ily foun­da­tions and in­di­vid­u­als, while work­ing closely with the St. Lu­cia Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion. Hands Across the Sea also serves schools on the is­lands of An­tigua, St. Kitts and Nevis, Do­minica, St. Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines, and Gre­nada.

Soufriere Pri­mary School Stu­dents tout read­ing.

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