Deer Park Fun Run will include a preview of the Book Bus

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On April 30, the Deer Park Education Foundation’s Strides for Schools fun run will not only raise funds for teachers’ wish lists, but will also feature the launch of the school district’s revamped book bus.

Foundation coordinator Jennifer Torres said race participants will be the first to experience the bus, which is being transformed into a “library on wheels”. The bus had the seats removed and the shelves installed. The Foundation also organizes a book drive during the Fun Run to help stock the shelves. Torres said new or lightly used books of all genres and age levels are welcome.

Starting this summer, the bus will travel throughout the district to community centers, apartment complexes and other residential areas, serving children and the community with books, programs and reading sessions with Deer Park teachers.

“Our libraries are open during the summer to try to prevent the summer slide that we all experience. In reality, some children just can’t get there, so the bus goes to them,” she said. declared.

Launched two years ago as a weekly pilot program focused on selected areas of the district, the book bus has served around 400 children. Now, following a $15,000 investment from the Foundation, the bus will take teachers around the district to meet and work with their students to support continued progress in literacy.

Torres said that although it has only been operational for two years with limited reach, the program has had an impact.

“It’s a great way to identify reading problems in students, and teachers would follow up and communicate (with each other about the kids),” she said. “We have seen the reading levels of these students improve. It was just very positive. »

Children using the bus service are encouraged to keep books and their siblings may also have options for reading material.

Torres said she and her team are looking forward to welcoming runners to the fun run. After bringing the event back in 2021 following the pandemic-related cancellation of 2020, the Foundation hopes to raise $150,000 with 1,500 attendees.

As one of the organization’s two biggest moneymakers, including a fall basketball tournament, the Strides for Schools event helps fund the approximately 200 teacher grant applications received. every year.

Last year, the Deer Park Education Foundation raised $241,000 for the grant program, but Torres said she’s seen that total climb to nearly $300,000 in years past.

Grants for teachers differ each year, but past funding has been used to buy 3D printers, software to teach children to program computers and books. The Foundation also invites a teenage author to visit secondary school students each year.

Recently, author Nathan Hale visited all of the Deer Park ISD high schools as well as the ninth grade center. Hale is the author of the Hazardous Tales series, non-fiction historical comics for tweens and teens. Torres said his visit was a success.

“He was very interesting and his books continue to be consulted (year after year), so it was really a good thing (to visit him),” she said.

Watch for more information about the event at https://helpdpkids.org.

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