Summer School Books Program Once Again a Success
July 13, 2020 – For the second year, Bennington Summer School students were offered a special incentive in exchange for perfect attendance: their very own Scholastic books.
With summer school taking place both in person and online due to COVID-19 this year, 66 percent of 120 summer school students achieved perfect attendance, totaling 735 books in the hands of students.
After Pine Creek Elementary Librarian Denise Klaus capitalized on the idea that students retain more from owning books of interest to them, she put the idea into action in 2019 with the help of the school district and the Bennington Public Schools Foundation’s Classroom Grant Program.
The program is a win-win because it motivates students to attend summer school and gives them additional summer reading material. After 81.4 percent of parents indicated the books as a “Very Motivating” incentive for their child last year, many hoped it would be offered again.
“It was kind of humorous the first week as parents called and emailed to make sure that the students were still going to be receiving the free books so they could motivate their students to come,” Klaus said. “In the end, they were all excited about receiving the books.”
The Foundation was excited about the program’s success in 2019, so its board of directors approved funding through its one-time funding program for 2020. This year, they provided around $2,700 in funding for the books.
“We were blown away by how these books motivated students and improved summer school attendance. The Foundation was pleased to fund this again in 2020,” said Foundation Executive Director Regina Meradith.
Klaus highlighted how this year receiving these books were more important for students than ever.
“The public library was closed. All school library books were returned and if a family relied on these resources for their books, those were gone. The students needed the motivation to get and come because they have fallen into different routines for a long time. They also needed to be motivated to log onto the days we were virtual,” she said.
She also discussed the unique challenges that came up getting the books ordered. She said this year only the first three weeks of attendance were counted because of Scholastic’s limited book availability.
“We were literally at the mercy of Scholastic Warehouses and what they had in stock. But they always came through for our kids.”
Students circled books they might be interested in originally and Klaus worked with HAL teacher Abby Fitzgerald to pick out books as close to each student’s interests as possible when they arrived.
“This was totally different because usually the kids do all the shopping. Because of COVID, we couldn’t allow this to happen. We ran out of grade appropriate materials and had to order again from Scholastic in order to attain our needed amount of books. But Scholastic honored our original agreement for the Buy One Get One Sale of books so we got a GREAT deal,” Klaus said.
Learn more about Foundation funding like this at www.benningtonschoolsfoundation.org!