Editor's Note: The Suncoast Campaign is looking forward to partnering with schools, groups, nonprofits, agencies, and faith-based organizations to offer this workshop throughout the Suncoast region. Please email connect@gradelevelreadingsuncoast.net if you would like to offer this workshop or if you would like SCGLR to hold a workshop for your group.  


We all recognize that teachers are amazing! They work with a multitude of children, each with individual learning styles, interests and… quirks! They pour into their students, listening to fears and hopes, navigating family situations, bandaging knees and hearts. Oh, and they give children the tools to learn, grow, and evolve into productive citizens. And that's just a few of their daily responsibilities.

Through the vision of Beth Duda, with support from The Patterson Foundation, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) desired to show appreciation for our educators, especially in the wake of distance learning and the COVID pandemic. With that aspiration in mind, THIS BOOK IS COOL! In School (TBICIS) was born. Since its birth in late 2020 and the program's implementation, more than 200 classrooms in the four-county region have participated in this program. Teachers receive three classroom books, lesson plans, three books for their student's home libraries, and other resources and support from the TBICIS team.

A recent Learn and Share Zoom was held with a small but mighty team of open and forthright teachers about what is working and areas where SCGLR can add more value. The teachers were effusive about the quality of the program, the books, and the team. One educator told us, "The pictures in Swim Fish were so colorful and engaging. And then the children were so excited to learn that they could take the books home with them!"

Also noted was the quality of the provided lesson plans. The detail made teaching with the books very easy, yet the flexibility allowed teachers to tailor the lessons to their specific class needs. One teacher shared, "The activities and links provided give us more to do with the book, which is especially helpful to reluctant readers."

After sharing the book, What Do You Do With a Tail Like This, a teacher mentioned, "My students can't stop talking about tails and seeing them everywhere. The connections they made with this book have been fabulous!"

We learned that the educators heard about the program from various sources. Some found out about it from their school leadership or colleagues, and others had children who participated in the summer program. One reported finding out about it after seeing The POINT storefront at the Crossing at Siesta Key mall. All agreed that they would continue to share with their teacher friends as the program is a phenomenal resource.

The teachers were willing to share improvements in the program, both from how they use it and what SCGLR can do better. One teacher said that when she does another round of books, she will communicate more with the parents about the program and how they can reinforce the book (and reading!) at home. Another suggested that she didn't use the activity book that came with the information to its full benefit and would maximize that resource in the future. One sheepishly told us that she didn't remember the activity book but would look for it as soon as the call ended!

The participants are also excited about doing a family engagement event for their students and families with a teaching artist to extend the learning further. While all acknowledge that engaging the families can be hard, one teacher reflected on her family's fun last summer with our teaching artists and wanted her students to have the same experience.

SCGLR is excited to keep this program growing. As a teacher from one of the participating schools shared, "Our mission is to get more books in the hands of our students. If they don't have books at home, they aren't going to learn. This program is a game-changer, and every teacher should sign on!"

That's our hope too!

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