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Clairton students benefit from teacher's book initiative

Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News - First-graders Tura Robinson,Bryant Goldsmith, Aliyah Plummer and Syleidy Mendez enjoy quiet reading time in class.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News</em></div>First-graders Tura Robinson,Bryant Goldsmith, Aliyah Plummer and Syleidy Mendez enjoy quiet reading time in class.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News - Kristi Schweitzer helps first-grade students Amaud Berry and Tanaira Chapman choose books based on their reading level.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News</em></div>Kristi Schweitzer helps first-grade students Amaud Berry and Tanaira Chapman choose books based on their reading level.
By Jennifer R. Vertullo
Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, 1:36 a.m.
 

Clairton Elementary teacher Kristi Schweitzer is using online fundraising resources to purchase tools for her classroom.

In developing a program she calls “Books for First-Grade Buddies,” Schweitzer searched for leveled readers so that students would have access to a large number of books during independent reading sessions.

She registered with donorschoose.org, and logged a request for books — and bins to store them — that allow students to read for enjoyment and reach individual milestones within their grade level.

She raised $850, enough to fully fund a project that she says has students excited about books.

Picking up selections at a variety of skill levels on subjects ranging from dinosaurs to the outdoors, students are engaged and challenged appropriately.

“They can go anywhere in the room and read books that are at their level,” Schweitzer said. “Every week, they can swap their books and get new ones.”

Many teachers must reach into their own pockets to provide beyond traditional textbooks. Schweitzer said the project seemed like something that would draw attention from former educators and potential donors who have an interest in helping children in low-income communities. Funds came to Clairton from as far as Puerto Rico.

“This resource is helpful in a district like ours where we don't have access to a lot of money,” Schweitzer said. “In order to get additional materials to benefit and enhance student reading, this is a way for me to accomplish that as a teacher.”

The school district's public relations coordinator, Alexis Trubiani, congratulated Schweitzer on a job well done.

“The district applauds Ms. Schweitzer and all the teachers taking the initiative to seek out funding and materials on their own,” Trubiani said. “With the state in the economic situation it is in, we are so proud of our teachers for finding ways to make projects happen. Whether it is through funding or with their own money, our teachers find a way to make good things happen.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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