Over the years, Pine View has participated in service projects for the betterment of Alta Vista Elementary, a Title I school which serves many low-income students who are unable to purchase their own books. Through various initiatives of the Up With Books program, including a book drive, pen-pal correspondence and field trips to Alta Vista, Pine View’s teachers and students have helped to support their sister school.
Second-grade teacher Joann Hershberger is one of the participants in the program who had the opportunity this year to visit with Alta Vista second-grade teacher Martha Downing, a pen pal over the course of several months. Books, collected by Pine View students, were also sent to the school. “We try to collect new or slightly used books for the elementary because the kids that go there are poor and cannot afford to buy their own books,” Hershberger said. “Then teachers adopt a class there, do pen-pals, and send books over to them. At the beginning of the year we started pen-paling, then we sent a box over Thanksgiving, so each kid gets their own book, then we sent another over Christmas, and now we’re getting ready to send them another box for Valentine’s Day and then we’ll do one last box over spring break.”
According to Hershberger, she enjoyed the opportunity to visit Downing’s class, and Downing’s students enjoyed the visit as well. “After the pen pal, we got to go over and meet them, and that was so neat. They had a book event at Alta Vista and they were all outside on the sidewalks and we got to have blankets and brought them a book that day and then my students would read to them, because even though they’re all second grade students, we read more fluently then them.” Downing. said.
Downing will be retiring after this year, but Hershberger has no plans to stop the program. In fact, she plans to expand it. “Those teachers [at Alta Vista] are just begging to have someone,” she said. “I’ve been there, and they’re crying for books, and it’s a problem.”
Hershberger knows that the Up With Books program is having an important impact. “They have a lot of hurdles to get through, so we’re just trying to help them become better readers,” she said.