The Rotary Club of Longboat Key hosted its first presentation of the school year for its Books For Kids program on Sept. 15 at Tuttle Elementary School.
Books For Kids is a literacy program with the goal of providing a more accessible way for Tuttle students to get new books and grow in their literacy skills. This particular partnership between the Rotary Club and Tuttle Principal Patti Folino began in 2021.
Each month, the club donates books tailored to the skill level of Tuttle's kindergarteners, first graders and second graders. To date, the program has resulted in the donation of more than 8,200 books to students at Tuttle.
The book donations are made possible by the Rotarians' personal contributions to their Rotary Charitable Fund, along with a matching grant from their Rotary District.
This month the Rotary Club distributed 200 books to Tuttle students. By the end of the school year, the club plans to donate close to 1,000 books.
Each month, Rotarians lead an interactive read-aloud event at the school to present the book of the month followed by a discussion with the students to identify the themes and concepts of the story. Each student receives a personal copy of the book.
The Rotary Club picked “Hey Grandude” by Paul McCartney for the second graders’ September book. It's about a grandfather using a magic compass to travel with his grandchildren around the world. The Rotarians also gave each of the students a small compass and a postcard to follow the theme of the story. The book chosen for the first graders was "Paddington Sets Sail."
“Basic education and literacy is one of the seven areas of focus for Rotary Clubs internationally,” said Nancy Rozance, club director and youth services chair of the Rotary Club. “Whatever we can do to instill a love for reading in the Tuttle Elementary students will help their paths forward be successful. Our collaboration with Dr. Folino and the rest of the administration at Tuttle ensures that this is a top priority. And our goal is to make it fun.”
Since 2014 when the club was founded, the Rotarians have partnered with Tuttle Elementary on a number of projects. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, they partnered with the All Faiths Food Bank to host a food pantry at the school. The Rotary Club also gave a $5,000 grant to Tuttle Elementary for a Digital Learning Lab with new computers in honor of the club's founding president Sydelle Pittas, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2016.
The Rotary Club also recently donated an American flag to Tuttle Elementary to place in the school's Media Center. The club held a presentation on Sept. 15 at the school between readings for the literacy program.
Tuttle Media Center Coordinator Vicki Richardson realized that they had only a tiny section hidden in the corner dedicated to important American artifacts but no flag. Since the close relationship the school has with the Rotary Club, Richardson knew that they would be happy to provide a flag.
“This partnership is essential,” said Principal Folino. “It's great for students to see other communities and share their mission.”
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Carol Erker’s name.