Just before the final bell rang signaling the end of the 2016-2017 school year, students at Success High School made their summer reading selections from a collection of free books made available through a Firstbook.org Foundation grant.

Valerie Burleigh, Success High School English teacher and District Secondary Teacher of the Year applied and received the grant. Burleigh has been a member of the Firstbook.org Foundation for ten years and applies each time the organization makes a grant available.

“The award of a Firstbook.org Foundation grant provides our students and students at our neighboring elementary school access to free books,” Burleigh said. “Over $18,000 worth of books went home with students over the summer.

Twice a year, Fall and Summer free books are made available to every student on the Success campus. Students from Success’s English Language Learner (ELL) class brought each student in neighboring Voigt Elementary School’s ELL Kindergarten class a book for them to take home and practice reading with over the summer.

Success junior, Kelly Matana selected a book for herself and chose several for her daughter, ten-month-old Juliana. Kelly says she makes it a priority to read to her daughter each day.

“My mom never read to me, and I am kinda slow at English. This is my opportunity as a mom to read to her, grow her vocabulary and set her up for success in school,” Kelly said. “Getting free books allows me to actively read to my daughter, continue building my reading skills and create a home library.”

An awarded grant from the Firstbook.org Foundation doesn’t include the cost to ship the books which both Burleigh and Success Principal Thomasine Stewart have taken turns paying. Shipping costs range from .35 to .75 per book and for a complete shipment can hover around $500. Burleigh hopes to secure a sponsor for the upcoming shipment of books that will be distributed at the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

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