Former educators support Literacy By 3 with annual book donation

HART member Judy Harwell, dressed up as Mickey Mouse from “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” hands out books at Burnet ES.

HART member Judy Harwell, dressed up as Mickey Mouse from “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” hands out books at Burnet ES.

Aside from current educators, there is probably no group of people more passionate about the need for developing literacy skills in children than retired teachers. That’s why the Houston Association for Retired Teachers (HART) has been selecting one HISD school per year since 2000 to receive free books.

This year, Burnet Elementary School was the lucky beneficiary, and members of HART dropped by on May 15 to distribute one free book to each student.

“Studies show that when kids read for fun, they have a better chance of becoming strong readers,” said Principal Ana Cantu. “HART has helped our students have that opportunity by giving them brand new books of their own.”

Bonnie Herst, who serves as co-chair of HART’s Books for Children program, said the organization’s members try to target schools in different parts of the city each year that serve heavily disadvantaged populations.

Two HART members at the May 15 distribution were also former students. Paul Ofield attended Burnet from 1939 until 1946, while Karen (Hawkins) Parson went there from 1950 until 1955. Parson’s mother also taught first grade there for 37 years.

Two HART members at the May 15 distribution were also former students. Paul Ofield attended Burnet from 1939 until 1946, while Karen (Hawkins) Parson went there from 1950 until 1955. Parson’s mother also taught first grade there for 37 years.

“Another reason we really want to continue doing this is that in many cases, this is the very first book that students will have ever owned that was theirs, and they are incredibly appreciative,” said Herst. “For some of them, it may also be the first thing they’ve ever read that they liked. And that’s a real factor.”

For more information on Books for Children, please visit the HART website.

For more on the district’s Literacy By 3 initiative, please visit the HISD website.

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