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Pahrump Rotarians provide books to local school children

An ongoing program to increase literacy rates among area elementary school children has returned, courtesy of the Pahrump Valley Rotary Club.

“Together We Read” is a project designed to encourage more children to read books, according to Rotary President Roy Mankins.

On Thursday, Feb. 18th several members of the Pahrump Rotary Club made a presentation at Mt. Charleston Elementary School.

“We donated books to all of the children in the Pahrump elementary school system,” Mankins said. “It was between 2,600 and 2,700 books, and we had them distributed. The books obviously are not novels because they are for children, but they are cartoon books and it’s just a very wide variety of books. We had donations of about 400 books, and we ended up buying about 2,400 books.”

Money talks

As part of the project, Mankins also spoke about a special incentive for students, teachers and parents that goes along with the reading project.

“We also set up a program where we donated money to the best book report that came out of it, and it goes to the student and the teacher,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that they were engaged, and we agreed that a small remuneration would help. This was something that Dina thought of and it was such a great idea, so we just decided that we needed to do it. It took quite a bit of coordination to get it done but it all worked out and it was great.”

Mankins was referring to the Rotary Club’s community ambassador, Dina Erdag, who provided additional details on the reading program.

“We put together bags that have three to four books in them, plus materials for the parents to encourage them to read too, and with their children because learning to read early is so very positive for our economy and our children,” Erdag said. “Next year will be our third year and we hope to push it to at least five years, going into the schools and doing book drives for second- and third-grade students. We also encourage them to donate their pre-k books back into this program, so we can recycle those. We do the incentive for the parents and students to participate in the program, because it’s very important to our community, and for our children to be able to succeed.”

Bringing the goods

Eddie Williams is the Pahrump Valley Rotary Club’s president-elect.

It was Williams who actually presented the checks to student Yazmine Uribe, Mother Delia Hernandez, and teacher Michelle Davis.

“We presented a couple of checks, and that’s the incentive that Dina was talking about,” Williams said. “I have been working diligently with her in doing that, and it was a privilege to present these checks to the teacher as well as the parent. It’s really exciting for me, not just as a parent myself, but just as a willing volunteer for the community. I really enjoy doing it. The teacher received $100, and the parent received $50 for the effort that she made to help her daughter become a better reader.”

A life-changer

The importance of reading and providing an incentive to read was not at all lost on Principal Joe Gent, as he lauded the efforts of the Pahrump Rotary Club.

“I absolutely love this because one of my regrets early in life was that I didn’t learn to love reading until literally my sophomore year in high school but it changed my life,” he recalled. “If we can get to these kids while they are young, reading just opens up a whole other world because the better a child can read, the better they will do on all of their other academic subjects. The Pahrump Rotary Club has been working with us very closely since the summer, regarding the Together We Read program.”

A real character

Donning a Tigger costume, which is a character from the “Winnie the Pooh” book series, was none other than Rotary Club member Janette Piersall, who instructed students in Beaverton, Oregon for many years.

“I taught for 30 years where I started out in teaching first-grade students, and then it was on to third-grade students,” she said. “I also taught one year for fourth graders and three years for fifth graders. I ended my career teaching sixth grade students. Tigger and Pooh are a childhood type thing. I still think it’s fun to kind of dress up as a character in a book, and read to them because they visualize as well as hear.”

So far, so good

Regarding campus operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Gent meanwhile, said activities are favorable at present.

“When you have 3- and 4-year-olds, they are so flexible and just excited to be here,” he noted. “I think perhaps we are one of the most fortunate campuses, because at their age, they just roll with it. It seems every day is like a wonderland to them, so things are going well here.”

Additionally, Gent said the pre-k school is still providing in-person instruction.

“We are still operating on campus, and the research has found that it’s not all that productive to do virtual education with 3-and 4-year-olds,” he said. “In fact, our Nevada Ready Pre-K Grant, limits the amount of screen time that we can give the kids. We are not supposed to give them a total of 20 minutes on any given day.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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