UW-Stout News Story

Students donate new books to Downsville Elementary

December 16, 2011

It didn’t take long for new books donated by University of Wisconsin-Stout students to end up in the hands of children.

A few minutes after being donated Friday, the books were being read by children in teacher Todd Hayden’s third-grade class at Downsville Elementary, south of Menomonie.

“Kids were ripping through the books like presents at Christmas,” said Hayden. “There’s a lot to be said about the feel of a book in your hands.”

A total of $1,600 worth of new books was donated during a ceremony in the school’s gymnasium, amounting to about 25 books for each of six classes.

The money was raised during a book fair in Heritage Hall last week at UW-Stout by School of Education students.

More than 50 UW-Stout students worked at the fair from the student chapter of the Wisconsin Education Association and the Student Association for the Education of Young Children. It was their first collaborative book fair.

“People still can’t believe we made that much,” said Erik Collins, a senior early childhood education major from Coon Rapids, Minn., who helped coordinate the book fair.

The student WEA and SAEYC chose to donate to Downsville Elementary, part of the Menomonie school district, because UW-Stout education students have volunteered at the school and sent student teachers there for several years.

“We wanted to promote literacy within their school, and with the holidays we thought it would be beneficial,” Collins said.

Downsville teachers picked the books — and a few other teaching aids — they wanted donated to their classrooms.

Hayden, a 2000 UW-Stout early childhood education graduate, was thrilled with the additions to his classroom. “I inherited a class library, but this is my first opportunity to pick materials that fit my teaching style,” said Hayden, holding up the new hardcover, “If You Give a Dog a Donut.”

“We got some hardcovers, and with the tight budgets it’s hard to get hardcover books. They’ll outlast my teaching career,” he said.

The book fair at UW-Stout was coordinated through Scholastic; the books donated to Downsville were Scholastic titles.

The books were presented during an all-school assembly. After Collins explained why the UW-Stout students were there and the books were presented to each class, Principal Bill Giese had the 113 children give a round of applause and sing the school song as a way of thanks. Each Downsville student also received a free pencil.

“We hope you enjoy all the books. It’s such an amazing school,” Collins told the children.
Among the UW-Stout students present were book fair co-coordinators Kayla Collins of Coon Rapids, Minn., and Kaitlyn Orrock, of Elk River, Minn.

UW-Stout School of Education director Brian McAlister and instructors Jill Klefstad, the early childhood education program director, and Lorri Mitchell also were on hand.

“The book fair was a great idea and was very successful. We have a good working relationship with Downsville,” McAlister said.

Klefstad said the university students benefited from the experience as much as the elementary students. “Our UW-Stout students certainly have experienced firsthand the power of partnerships with teachers and schools and how beneficial they can be for children.”

Two UW-Stout students will student-teach at Downsville next semester, Klefstad said.


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