Nickell Foundation supports summer reading in Greenbrier

A $5,000 grant from the Mary B. Nickell Foundation brings Read Aloud one step closer to full funding of a summer reading initiative in Greenbrier County.

The pilot program is modeled after a longitudinal study by literacy researchers Richard Allington and Anne McGill-Franzen. The University of Tennessee education professors found that providing self-selected books for summer reading was as beneficial to reading achievement as summer school. Read Aloud will work with the Greenbrier County Campaign for Grade Level Reading to implement the program at Crichton Elementary.

“These funds, along with a grant of $3,000 from Greenbrier County’s Hollowell Foundation, bring us much closer to our goal of $10,000 for full implementation in all grades at the school,” said Lynn Kessler, Communications and Development Director for Read Aloud. “We’re extremely grateful to both the Nickell and Hollowell Foundations for their votes of confidence in this project.”

The Mary B. Nickell Foundation administers funds entrusted to it for the promotion of the arts and for educational purposes to encourage the development and appreciation of the arts and for the promotion of the happiness and well-being of the community centered in and around Greenbrier County.

Book, reader inspire Greenbrier students to take action

By Nikki Moses

When Kim Curry read A Long Walk to Water to students at Eastern Greenbrier Middle School, she set off a chain of events that culminated in a highly successful drive for backpacks and school supplies for kids in Haiti.

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is a true story about Salva, a Sudanese lost boy, and a fictional girl, Nya. Nya cannot attend school because she must spend her days carrying water from a far away pond for her family. Author Park brings their lives together when Salva helps build a well in Nya’s village, thus enabling her to attend school.

Curry had witnessed the same water problems in Haiti, where she has traveled six times through Mountains to Mountains, a program of Trinity A Long Walk to WaterUnited Methodist Church in Ronceverte.

“That has been my experience in Haiti,” she said. “Some children can’t go to school because they have to carry water.”

Curry said she “took photographs of community wells, water jugs, people carrying water, on my trip in March with the purpose of sharing them with the students because I had read A Long Walk to Water to them.” Seeing this lack of access to clean water in Haiti (like in Sudan), along with class discussions, inspired Greenbrier students to help Haitian kids by conducting the backpack drive. Soon students at Greenbrier East High School became involved.

Curry said, “Brindi Anderson did the legwork for the drive. She provided all of the structure the kids needed. I just read the book. The kids jumped in and Brindi provided guidance.” Anderson is a teacher at Eastern Greenbrier Middle School.

The students needed money for shipping costs, so they held three-point basketball competitions, bake sales and more. They raised more than $130 and sent the supplies to Ecole-Shalome School in Croix des Bouquets outside of Port-au-Prince.

Curry, who is a retired teacher and school principal, and a Read Aloud coordinator and reader, hopes to further the relationship between students at the two schools through Skype, letter writing and emailing.