Enfield’s teachers are on a mission to create bookworms in their community.
For the second year in a row, the Enfield Teachers’ Association (ETA) is adding to local families’ libraries through its community outreach efforts.
After the ETA put out a request for books, teachers collected 1,410 gently used titles for young children and adolescents through teacher donations as well as leftovers from the library of a recently closed school. The ETA beat last year’s inaugural record of 1,000 books collected.
Teachers were able to round up the books within two weeks, said Prudence Crandall School teacher and building rep Kelly Shea, who chaired the event. Over four nights, volunteers sorted the selections by grade level and genre and packed trios of books into large Ziploc bags labeled with the age range. The packets, suitable for kindergarten through high school, were handed out to children and families in late September at Enfield’s Family Fun Festival.
“This is our community, and these are the people we serve,” said Hazardville Memorial School teacher Michele Wilcox, who helped distribute the books. “Home-school connections are so important. The more we can do to reach our students and families, the more they are seeing that our teachers are invested in them.”
Take your pick
At the festival, children carefully looked over selections spread out on a table under a tent. Choices ranged from fiction and non-fiction to popular titles and topics, from picture books and board books to advanced readers and novels. Wilcox kept the table stocked, pulling more bagged selections from a half-dozen plastic bins filled to the brim.
“We are hoping to stock home libraries and supplement what they have,” Shea said, encouraging families to take as many selections as they wished.
Wilcox also encouraged families with small children who cannot read yet to take some titles.
“Just to read aloud—it’s so important to start young,” said Wilson, who said Enfield is a melting pot of cultures and backgrounds.
From classroom to community
ETA President Emily Hulevitch said she was overwhelmed as she watched families pick out books at the festival.
“You can’t put it into words,” she said. “We love our kids and their families. We love our community. Just look at the excitement on their faces.” Hulevitch was the winner of the 2018 CEA Salutes award, presented at this year’s CEA Representative Assembly.
The Enfield Teachers’ Association has made outreach an integral part of its mission. The group looks for community projects where its members can help, such as raising money for a bench for local veterans, stuffing a bus with toys at the holidays, or offering treats for a senior citizen movie night.