“I can't even begin to describe the incredible feeling of giving students books that celebrate their individual culture, ethnicity, and beliefs. Their eyes light up, exclaiming, "Hey, he looks just like me!" Or "I celebrate that too!!!" Thanks to the Spark Foundation, students at Stowe Elementary are beginning to build their home libraries with rich text that celebrate diversity, acceptance, and tolerance. BEAUTIFUL books that are thoughtfully selected and provided FREE OF CHARGE! I will be forever grateful to the Spark Foundation for providing students with, not only literature, but also those positive community relationships. I cannot wait to get volunteers into my classroom,reading and celebrating literature with these AMAZING students!! Thanks again, for all you do!”
Lee Parkison, 1st grade teacher at Stowe Elementary
“We as teachers speak daily to our kids about the importance and power in reading to learn and for enjoyment. We do our best to instill a passionate love and desire to read in our students. Then we send them home to a place where most have no access to books, which greatly affects their ability to read, especially over the long summer. The real power of reading is when you choose to pick up a book and immerse yourself because you want to and because you can. Giving our students the gift of access to books at home is one the most beneficial offerings we could ever provide them. There is power in words and stories that go beyond the benefits of improving test scores. We are putting the power to learn and grow in their hands, which is a chance they might not have otherwise. We at Moulton Elementary are extremely grateful to the Spark Foundation for gifting our students with the resources they need to improve their life.”
Kimberly Smith, 3rd grade teacher at Moulton Elementary
The Spark Foundation has been an incredible blessing to the students at Monroe Elementary! Akil and his team have done a great job of connecting to our students with volunteer classroom readers and then providing the students with a copy of the book being read to take home as well. Additionally, they have hosted two free books fairs for our students where they were able to pick out books of their choice FREE of charge. At the fair, Spark did an amazing job of choosing a wide variety of books that connect to our students and their diverse backgrounds. One of my favorite parts of the experience was hearing one of my students say, “Miss Risse, now my mom can read me bedtime stories because I found books in Spanish!” They have also done an amazing job of keeping our students engaged in reading throughout the pandemic by sending books of interest directly to our student’s homes! It was so much fun to be able to have students read to me via online meetings even when we were unable to be together at school. So many of the students and their families expressed their gratitude for the books that connected to their children. I am so thankful my students had the opportunity to experience all that Spark has to offer! You guys are amazing!
Haley Risse, 1st grade teacher at Monroe Elementary
"I have had the pleasure of working with the Spark Foundation at Monroe Elementary where they have partnered with our First Grade Classrooms. Spark Foundation hosted two book fairs so far this school year where kids were able to shop for books for their home libraries. The best part of this experience was watching their faces light up when they learned they would be able to shop for their own books AND decide how to spend their voucher money. The students took it so seriously and looked for just the right books for them. After the students shopped for their books they each dove right into the pages and relished in showing their new treasured books to their classmates. They were all reading, pointing and eager to show their teachers and the Spark volunteers all the words they could read in their new books. Now, upon spotting me in the halls, our first graders ask me when they will get to shop again and are always sure to let me know they are reading their books at home, just like Mr. Akil instructed them to do.
The volunteer classroom readers are another favorite as the students take pride in having a volunteer who cares enough about their learning to want to visit their classroom. I believe the success of this program stems from the intentionality of the books that are chosen and the volunteers who come to shop with the kids and read to them. The books have students who look and sound like them and their families. The volunteers look and sound like them too and they can not get enough of them. During the last classroom reading with a Spark volunteer, there was a Spanish speaking student who was so happy to read her book with the volunteer who also spoke Spanish. Monroe is very lucky to have such a great community partner in the Spark Foundation."