Soufriere Primary School Reaps Literacy Award

Recognizing the passion and dedication of the school’s staff and students to literacy and the creation of a vibrant school library, Soufriere Primary School has been awarded the 2014-2015 Hands Across the Sea Literacy Award for St. Lucia. The prize is U.S. $1,000 in brand new books of the school’s choice.

Soufriere Primary School is a progressive, child-friendly school with a great library and a gifted, highly committed staff—Principal Gill and his teachers are dedicated to raising the literacy level of their students. The library is a welcoming, comfortable, and invigorating place for the children. The teacher in charge (and chief creative architect) of the library, Ms. Cecilia Clovis, reports:

“Our boys have become hooked on books like Horrid Henry and Captain Underpants. Our girls are in love with Junie B. Jones and Magic Tree House.” Other favourites include A-Z Mysteries, Magic School Bus, Nancy Drew, and Goosebumps. Students are also encouraged to read widely, a goal made possible by the broad range of books supplied by Hands Across the Sea.

Soufriere Primary School Students tout reading.

Soufriere Primary School Students tout reading.

Hands Across the Sea first shipped new books to the school for the 2011-2012 school year, and followed that up with shipments for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years. With the recent October, 2014 shipment, the school now has over 1,600 brand new books from Hands. As winners of the 2014-2015 Hands Literacy Award for St. Lucia, the school will receive an additional shipment of new books worth U.S $1,000.

Hands Across the Sea’s co-founder and executive director Harriet Linskey said, “There is no doubt that improved literacy skills open the door to a better life, and the principal, Mr. Felix Gill, and his staff and students are demonstrating a strong commitment to promoting reading and writing by the creation of this beautiful library.” Hands Across the Sea has served 14,120 children at 55 St. Lucia primary and secondary schools and reading programs since 2010, sending 40,300 new books.

As part of each year’s Hands Wish Lists, educators specify the types of books most needed for their school. “We believe that literacy is a right for every child,” says Hands Across the Sea’s Program/Operations Director, Amanda Dombach.

“We feel really honoured to be able to partner with amazing schools, like Soufriere Primary School, who share this belief and are committed to ensuring that their students are able to develop strong reading and writing skills. By receiving feedback from teachers and principals on the specific needs of the school and its students we are able to not only support the school’s curriculum and teacher’s lesson plans, but also provide students with engaging and culturally relevant books that will help them to develop a love of reading.”

In St. Lucia the Hands Across the Sea team is ably represented by Jacqueline Vidal-Atherly, the resident Hands Literacy Link for St. Lucia, who assists schools with everything from hands-on rejuvenation of their library space to helping teachers and librarians help raise child literacy levels through their school library.

Hands Across the Sea is dedicated to raising the literacy levels of Eastern Caribbean children. Since founding the organization in 2007, Hands Across the Sea has shipped over 173,000 books to the region through its Caribbean Literacy and School Support (CLASS) program. The CLASS program, in concert with each school’s Hands Wish Lists (school principals, teachers, and U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers tell Hands which books they need). CLASS works in three ways: 1. Send Great New Books; 2. Create Borrowing Libraries (usually a school library); and 3. Foster Sustainability of the library through support at the school and from the local community.

On the island, Hands Across the Sea partners with the U.S. Peace Corps, the Sandals Foundation, Scotiabank Bright Future, the MoneyGram Foundation, and caring family foundations and individuals, while working closely with the St. Lucia Ministry of Education. Hands Across the Sea also serves schools on the islands of Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada.

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