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Businesses partner with councilwoman to bring Kindles to Fifth Ward’s library

RESERVE — Small businesses in St. John the Baptist Parish recently partnered with District 4 Councilwoman Tyra Duhe’-Griffin to give the gift of reading to students at Fifth Ward Elementary School in Reserve. The community partners donated a class set of 30 Amazon Kindle Fire tablets to help bring the school library into the 21st Century.

The local business representatives, who did not wish to be identified, also donated $850 in Walmart gift cards to provide incentives for students and teachers involved in Fifth Ward Elementary’s reading initiative.

Extra Kindles from the class set were recently awarded to principal’s list students Matthew Lane, Donovan Jaylin Brown and Josiah Brown.

Increasing literacy at the school has been a major focus for Principal Dr. Brandi Turner. She said the class set of Kindle tablets will ensure every child at the school benefits from the community partnership.

According to Dr. Turner, addressing literacy in the K-2 age group is especially important to combating the instructional gaps resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Giving every child the gift of reading supports our school improvement goal of increasing literacy in K-2, and it’s a gift that keeps on giving,” Dr. Turner said. “We know that literacy is the foundation for a school. If we get students to read and focus on comprehension at an early age, we are increasing their likeliness to graduate from high school and college. We want to make sure they have the foundation that is necessary for them to be successful.”

While Councilwoman Duhe-Griffin specializes in math and science, she recognizes that literacy is a building block to success in all subjects. Reading comprehension is part of conducting background research for science experiments and solving word problems in math.

Duhe-Griffin said the Kindles will give students the option to download whatever book they want to read from the library, and she is thankful for all businesses that contributed to make this possible.  She said one local business even offered to assist in Fifth Ward’s library renovations by painting the space.

Building community partnerships is one of her goals as a public servant in St. John the Baptist Parish.

“I’m always going out into the community and trying to get things for Fifth Ward, not only because I work here, but also because these are students that live in my District 4 community. Touching those kids in my community is very rewarding,” Duhe-Griffin said.

Dr. Turner has worked hard to fight the stigma surrounding Fifth Ward Elementary. She appreciates partnerships that offer resources and solutions, giving students tools to succeed rather than marginalizing them.

Dr. Turner and Duhe-Griffin have a goal to renovate the school library by the start of the next school year. The library will be divided into four sections involving local history, technology, reading and art. Information will soon be posted to the Fifth Ward Elementary website detailing how the community can contribute to the new library.

“We are also updating our book collection and making sure there is representation so the kids can see books written by Black and Hispanic authors and be able to see children like themselves in different books,” Dr. Turner said.