School may be out for the summer, but that won’t stop the learning experience for students at Lincoln Elementary School.
On Monday, more than 40 students collected in the shade at Lincoln Park, their noses buried deep into a book. They arrived with family members and friends, each sprawled out on the grass, spending their first few hours of summer not on a computer or video game but lost in a great tale.
Principal Steve Anderson was blown away by the level of participation the reading program received in its sophomore season. During its pilot run a year ago, the get-togethers were never this large.
“It was amazing,” he said. “We’re just trying to get kids to appreciate reading; build that love for reading and get them hooked. Hopefully, it will continue through the school year and on through their elementary and high school years.”
The program was founded and coordinated by teachers Ericka Murphy and Randi Fowzer, and it will run the next nine Monday afternoons, beginning at noon. Murphy and Fowzer will meet the families in the park, near Lincoln Pool, with tubes of books for each reading level.
Manteca Unified will provide lunch for those that attend.
Many of the students at Lincoln Elementary School are on a lunch program, and Anderson said Murphy and Fowzer took that into consideration when planning the reading program’s summer run.
“We have a lot of families on the lunch program,” Anderson said, “so with Manteca Unified providing lunch in the park, we decided to tailor it around that so that kids could have lunch and read.”
Most of the credit for the reading program’s success belongs to its chief architect, Murphy. She started the program last year as a part-time instructor. She was made full-time this past school year, and Anderson believes there is a direct correlation between Murphy’s employment status and Monday’s success.
“She’s a Read 180 teacher and she has a real passion for reading and teaching these kids,” Anderson said of Murphy. “She’s the bomb. … They’re both the bomb.”
Among the program’s many blessings, Anderson believes it’s important to not lose sight of another important guest at Monday’s gathering: The others. He acknowledged the presence and purpose of family and friends, adding that students need to know that their education doesn’t stop at home.
On Monday, Anderson watched as students read to their siblings and parents, and vice versa. Student Daisy Bowling shared a blanket with her father and cousin. There, the two girls read from chapter books, their fingertip acting as a guide as their eyes moved left to right over the words.
Dad looked on, listening and following along.
Family support is as important to a student’s education as the student-teacher dynamic, Anderson added. He called it the “triangle.”
“Anytime we can involve families it supports the educational goal. The teacher, student and parent – that’s an important triangle. It’s like they say, it takes a village. We need parent involvement, we need teachers and students. You need those three to be successful.”