All four of the school’s third grade teachers, Mindy Hunley, Carrie Smith, Rhonda Brownlee and Jennifer Cassell, participated in the program awarded by the state of Tennessee and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. Selected students were chosen to participate and received books, transportation and other things to assist them in bettering their reading skills over the summer.
The program wrapped up Friday, but had a parents’ night Thursday at the school, where parents read to their children and the students got to pick out the free books that they wanted.
“It was $23,000,” Hunley said of the grant for which the four teachers applied. Across Tennessee, she said 226 applied and Surgoinsville Elementary was one of 12 that received one of the grants.
The 15 are among about 80 set to start third grade on Aug. 8 at the Hawkins County school, where Susan Trent is principal. Aside from the instruction, the five-week program that operated five days most weeks included transportation to and from the school each day, lunch and transportation to and from four free field trips: the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, the Titanic attraction in Pigeon Forge, the Farmers Market in Kingsport and the Knoxville Zoo, which was the final field trip on Friday.
While in the building, students worked on projects that included writing their own books and doing projects in STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math.