A.E. Bowers Elementary School will be able to restock its shelves with new books in the coming years and offer plenty of literacy-themed experiences for its students, thanks to Indigo’s Love of Reading grant.
The Airdrie elementary school was one of 40 schools in Canada to receive the grant. The funding amounts to $80,000, which the school will receive over a period of three years in approximately $26,000 increments.
“It’s honestly overwhelming, the amount of books we will be able to purchase,” said Kelly Friesen, a Grade 4 teacher at A.E. Bowers Elementary School.
Friesen discovered the grant after a book shopping outing at Indigo. After receiving approval from A.E. Bowers’ principal Jocelyn Littlefair, Friesen applied for the grant, and the process included creating a literacy vision for the school.
“The big thing we focused on was having every child [to] be represented in a book, whether you’re a child with a disability, or a child of colour, or a child with a diverse family,” Friesen said.
“For me…every kid is reading, and every kid loves to read, and every kid has access to books…if we can foster that love of reading in students and have so many books to choose from that they can't decide, that’ll be great for us,” the Grade 4 teacher added.
In addition to the literacy vision, some A.E. Bowers staff and students wrote letters in support of the grant, including Rocky View Schools Ward 3 (Airdrie) trustee Melyssa Bowen.
After applying for the grant, the school’s staff waited nearly three months before finding out they were a successful applicant.
“[It was] really crazy, [we were] over the moon excited,” said Friesen.
A portion of the grant is discretionary, meaning the school must spend a pre-determined amount on professional learning activities and hosting author visits at the school.
“Meeting real-life authors and illustrators is super exciting for our kids, so having them in our school really does ignite that passion [for reading],” Littlefair said.
The school will host future author visits in the learning commons area of the elementary school, which is located at the heart of A.E. Bowers.
“With these funds…we’re going to make our learning commons an exciting place where every child wants to be and where every child can congregate through the love of literacy,” principal Littlefair said. “We’re going to be really sprucing that place up to make it the coolest, most awesome place ever.”
According to Littlefair, celebrating literacy is fundamental at A.E. Bowers and the grant will allow the children to partake in field trips such as bookstore outings, visiting an author, and book signings.
“We don’t want it [the grant] to be a one-off thing. We want this to be… a flame that’s been kindled and we want to make it into a nice, big bonfire,” Littlefair added. “The most important thing that we can do as educators is that our children have ignited a passion for literacy and a passion for reading.”
The infusion of funds into the school also helps promote literacy at a young age by providing the elementary students with access to free, inclusive, and diverse books.
“We know that the earlier children are literate, the more successful they are in life,” Littlefair said. “We need to catch our children young to ensure we are infusing that passion for literacy in order to grow successful citizens.”