Van Horn and Sly presented a $10,000 New Jersey Reads Literacy grant to the West New York Board of Education on March 14 in Public School No 5's media center at 5401 Hudson Ave.
This presentation coincides with the March is Reading Month promotion sponsored by New Jersey Reads. New Jersey Reads is a statewide non-profit organization that was launched in February with start-up money from Verizon. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the issues surrounding low literacy levels. The organization is also working to provide tutors and gain new funding opportunities to support existing and future literacy programs.
According to Schools Superintendent Anthony Yankovich, the $10,000 grant that Van Horn and Sly presented will be used to implement an after-school literacy program for students and their parents throughout the district.
Reading is fun
First grade students from Public School No. 5, all wearing their new New Jersey Reads T-shirts, learned just how much fun reading could be that day.
Van Horn and Sly read two books to Jackie Hudock's first grade class during their visit.
"I am here to pass along the message that reading is fun," said Van Horn to the first graders. Van Horn read Foot Book by Dr. Seuss (with Sly acting out the words) and I'll Teach My Dog 100 Words by Michael Firth. First grade student Susanna Galvin later said that those books were her favorites.
"Everything that you do in school, even math, requires reading," said Van Horn during the visit. "If you become a strong reader, you will become a strong student, too."
This is Van Horn's second visit to Public School No. 5. Van Horn visited the school in November when the school was named the first New Jersey Nets Reading and Learning Center.
Since they were chosen as a Reading and Learning Center, the Nets donated 200 books (worth $500 in total) to the school's library, and a banner has been displayed in the school's library.
"Reading is at the heart of everything that we do," said Al Lopez, principal of Public School No. 5, who has been a New Jersey Nets season ticket holder since 1976.
Getting parents involved
Arden Hutson, the district supervisor of literacy education, said that the $10,000 after-school program will be geared toward students from early childhood education through the third grade.
"The idea of the program is to get the parents involved in the students' learning," said Hutson.
Van Horn reminded the students that the program will not work without their efforts.
"The most important part of this program is that you use it," said Van Horn. "It is up to you guys to go home and read with your parents, and to go to the library to take out books and do your schoolwork. The most important part of this program is you."
According to Yankovich, the program will be implemented before April.