Picture dictionaries a gift for Rowan-Salisbury kindergarten students and parents

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Maggie Blackwell
Tiny Jaquelin Segundo leafs through the shiny pages of her new picture dictionary. Does she have other books at home? No ó no books, she says shyly. Her mother, Guadalupe, doesn’t speak much English but figures out what is happening.
“House?” she asks.
Yes, a staff member explains. This book goes home with you today.
Jaquelin’s eyes sparkle as she hugs the book to her chest.
Thanks to a Margaret C. Woodson Foundation grant and the hard work of curriculum staff, every kindergarten student in the Rowan-Salisbury School System will receive a hardback picture dictionary this month. All 1,692 of them.
The original grant says the books are intended to serve as a bridge for vocabulary development and to nurture the family relationship with schools, and they can be particularly helpful for children from families who speak a different language in the home. Parents are encouraged to get involved as well, and can also learn from the dictionaries.
Each school in the system planned a special event to present the books to the families. Last Friday, Knollwood Elementary kindergarten classes held a “show and tell” for parents.
Knollwood has eight kindergarten classes. Most schools have two or three.
The school buzzed with excitement as parents, seated on tiny chairs, learned how to use the books at home. Teachers demonstrated various learning activities on the Promethean interactive white boards.
Knollwood parent Edwin Rivas was impressed. “We will enjoy this book at home,” he said. His son, Edwin Jr., agreed.
Each student received a bookplate, a sticker to put inside the book with his or her name on it. They carefully lettered their names on the stickers and worked with parents to find just the right spot to put them.
The school system waited until spring to present the books to the children. By mid-year, kindergarten students are making the connection that letters come together to make words, school officials say.
The project was the brainchild of curriculum specialist Jane Creech. At first, the concept was to put a book in the hands of every kindergarten child. When she thought of children and parents who may not be able to speak or read English, the idea evolved to a picture dictionary.
“With the picture dictionary, now all the children can have that cuddly time in the parent’s arms, regardless of their English skills,” Creech said.
Knollwood principal Shonda Hairston couldn’t be more pleased with the turnout. “We had 97 parents. The participation was wonderful,” Hairston said. “We are very excited about the parental support for this program.
“I am so glad the parents were able to learn the strategies to work with their children at home,” Hairston said. “I know it will help in their learning.”
Creech was clearly happy as children reacted to the concept of having a new book to take home. While some students indicated they had lots of books at home, others said this was their first. “I never knew Mrs. Woodson, but her foundation has done so much for the children of this town,” she said. “I just know she would be so happy to see what she has done for these students.”
Paul Woodson agrees. He sits on the Foundation and was instrumental in awarding the grant.
“Mrs. Creech is right. My grandmother was so benevolent. She loved to help people,” he said. “She was fortunate to have the means to help others. She valued education and provided for scholarships, as well. She would be so pleased that this helps the students.”