Sept - Nov Issue
September 23, 2014

Union distributes thousands of first books to students

Author: By Liza Frenette
Source: NYSUT United
Ruth Shippee, president of Saratoga Adirondack BOCES EA; James Dexter, superintendent of WSWHE BOCES; NYSUT Board member Sandy Carner-Shafran of the SABEA; and WSWHE BOCES Principal Shawn Hunzicker mark the arrival of first books. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.
Caption: Ruth Shippee, president of Saratoga Adirondack BOCES EA; James Dexter, superintendent of WSWHE BOCES; NYSUT Board member Sandy Carner-Shafran of the SABEA; and WSWHE BOCES Principal Shawn Hunzicker mark the arrival of first books. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

Going on a journey through words is even more special when the book is yours to share and reread.

Especially if it's your first book.

NYSUT is putting first books in the hands of students with the help of the non-profit organization First Book Inc., and the American Federation of Teachers, a NYSUT national affiliate. Books are made available at low to no cost to high-needs schools and nonprofit programs that serve low-income families.

In just the last six months, NYSUT has distributed 242,000 books worth more than $2.9 million to schools, bringing the total to 365,000 books since April 2012 when NYSUT joined the First Book effort, said Paul Webster, NYSUT director of community outreach.

Most recently, NYSUT worked with the Saratoga Adirondack BOCES Employees Association to qualify for a free truckload of 40,000 books, which arrived Sept. 16. The books were distributed to schools and non-profit clubs throughout the Capital Region, including the 31 districts served by the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES.

"Literacy helps with school and life skills. These kids don't have access to many books," said Ruth Shippee, SABEA president.

The United Federation of Teachers and the Buffalo Teachers Federation also earned truckloads of 40,000 books. Teacher and SRP unions with NYSUT's Tarrytown, Syracuse and Rochester regional offices are also taking the challenge: Each time a group gets 2,000 pre-K-12 educators, staff and board members to register at www.firstbook.org/aft, a truckload of books is sent out.

Teachers and SRP locals participating in NYSUT's annual Local Action Project shared 4,000 books to take home for students.

Aaron Sorensen, Gilbertsville-Mount Upton Teachers Assocation president, said his small, rural district has a "tremendous need for books." NYSUT gave the local enough books to hand to every student in every class the last week of school.

"It was their summer reading book," he said. "It's really important kids see the value of reading and not have an assignment attached to it."

Teneka Wilcox of Troy TA said many students in her district cannot get to a library. "Families that don't have access to books because of the price can get these quality books and they can take them home," she said of First Book. Two hundred first books were delivered to her school.

JOIN IN

First Book Inc., obtains new, high-quality books donated from book publishers and through monetary donations from people and companies that support the program. To gain books for your school or program, visit www.firstbook.org/AFT to register

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