When Robin Jaques was applying for a McDonald’s Golden Grant award, the Bunnell Elementary School K-2 reading coach decided she would go big or go home.
Jaques applied for the largest grant of $10,000.
McDonald’s franchise owners in Florida and South Georgia are awarding 27 grants totaling $100,000 to teachers and organizations. Bunnell Elementary is one of three schools to receive a $10,000 grant.
Joe Cox, the president and CEO of J-Quint LLC, which operates the three Palm Coast McDonald’s restaurants and 10 others in Central Florida, awarded the grant to BES for a monthly literacy activity day for students and families and a book purchasing program.
“Joe Cox said we stood out because we itemized everything we’re going to do with the money,” Jaques said.
Jaques is organizing four monthly Saturday activity days beginning Jan. 28 for students and their families. The activities will use science themes to increase vocabulary and background knowledge. While the children will be in the school cafeteria working on activities, parents and caregivers will be in a separate room learning how reading instruction works for their child’s age group and how they can work with their children at home.
“We want anyone who wants to come, but you have to come as a family. You can’t drop your kid off,” Jaques said.
Bunnell Elementary is a Title 1 school with 74% of its 1,125 students on free or reduced lunch, she said.
“Literacy and reading are complex topics and there are multiple reasons students have challenges when it comes to reading.”
— ROBIN JAQUES
“My heart centers around students in Title 1 schools,” Jaques said. “Literacy and reading are complex topics and there are multiple reasons students have challenges when it comes to reading.”
Vocabulary and background knowledge contribute to reading comprehension, she said. The themes for each activity day — space (January), rocks (February), water (March) and life cycles (April) are designed to boost students’ vocabulary and their science knowledge.
There will be a paid staff of seven that includes reading teachers and coaches and a Multi-Tiered System of Supports specialist. The multi-tiered system aims to make sure no student fall through the cracks. Heidi Alves, the district’s teaching and learning specialist for science, will also be on hand to support the science aspect of the program, Jaques said.
The second part of the grant provides for the purchase of books that are vetted by the school district or are already in school libraries. The goal, Jaques said, is for each student to read 50 books with a family member by the end of the school year with a chapter book counting as five books.
“Who doesn’t remember that time when they read with a family member as a special time in their lives?” asked Jaques. “If they would like to do the program but do not have a family member, we can help find support through a mentorship.”
Jaques said McDonald’s will provide a celebration for students who reach their goal.
“Joe Cox was a science major and he was completely all-in. He was extremely supportive,” Jaques said.
Bunnell Elementary School’s objective is to get all of its students reading by the third grade, she said.
“It is a lofty goal, but we are pretty passionate about giving our community of Bunnell 100% dedication to this goal,” Jaques said.