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Partner “engineering better readers” at Longfellow ES

2013 March 21
by HISD Communications

Engineers know the value of a firm foundation—and that’s why so many of them are also supporters of public education.

With solid reading comprehension skills under their belts, students are capable of tackling the advanced math and science concepts needed for success in the field of engineering and other STEM-related careers.

Fugro, an international firm with its North American headquarters in Houston, has been doing its part to support student literacy by partnering with Longfellow Elementary School through its Engineering Better Readers (EBR) program.

For each of the past three years, Fugro has donated $5,000 for the purchase of Accelerated Reading (AR) program prizes, which students obtain by trading in points earned for reading books and completing online quizzes.

“Reading programs abound in our country, but none like this,” said Engineering Better Readers Director Patti Bachner. “No other program provides prizes of any real consequence or requires a child to save for a larger gift. This basic and simple concept is what sets EBR apart. Our mission is to improve the lives of children who need it the most, and because the needs of these children are so great, these prizes are truly meaningful.”

Longfellow ES Instructional Coordinator Amy Gurghigian says the yearly grant has resulted in a marked increase in participation. “The children read before school, in the cafeteria, and even on restroom breaks,” she said. “They always have books in their hands.”

An unexpected by-product of the EBR program is an improvement in students’ basic math skills. “Kids have to add and subtract to figure out how many points they need to get this or that,” said Bachner. “In one case, a group of students wanted a football for recess, so they pooled their points together and divided by five to determine each individual contribution. And they got that football.”

In addition to Texas, the EBR program also has pilot programs active in three other states: Colorado, New Jersey, and Tennessee.

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