Bookworm Mobile delivering books, lunch and smiles throughout the summer
For the third consecutive year, the Johnson City Schools Bookworm Mobile is traveling through Johnson City bringing books, lunches, and ultimately smiles, throughout the community.
Following its set schedule from Monday to Thursday, the retrofitted activity bus travels through the city with its festive music playing – similar to an ice cream truck – as it makes its way from stop-to-stop.
The purpose of the Bookworm Mobile, which started in 2016, is to help combat what educators call the “summer slide”. The summer slide is the tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year.
A great way to combat that, according to Scholastic, is to read at least six books over the summer. The Bookworm Mobile has served as a successful way to reach students that are home during the summer according to Johnson City Schools Director of Accountability and School Improvement Dr. Robbie Anderson.
“We couldn’t help but think that there were some students living in pockets throughout the city, who might not have the opportunity to attend summer school or attend library events,” Anderson said. “This initiative was just another avenue for us to use to shore up literacy and support summer reading.”
The bus travels from June to July affording students the opportunity to pick out a book to enjoy and keep. They also have the option to pick up a bagged lunch. This year they have also added a Wi-Fi hotspot so that students can download myOn books. For the month of June, John Renner and Shanna Fudge will be staffing the bus. In July, Khia Hudgins and Evelyn Tripodi will make the trips.
Renner and Fudge both work at Topper Academy during the school year, but they said that working with younger children is a nice change of pace for them. They both agreed that seeing the smiles on children’s faces when they get to pick out a book is a rewarding experience.
“It’s a great, rewarding program,” Renner said. “It brings out how fortunate we are and the fact that others are less fortunate. To help out in just a little way, it’s very rewarding.”
Renner and Fudge said that the first week is normally slow as the communities are a bit weary of the bus, but after a few weeks, a group of smiling children normally greets them at each stop.
“Once they see what is going on and the word starts spreading, they will run to the bus or sometimes they will be waiting on us,” Fudge said. “It’s exciting to see that when we roll up they start jumping with excitement.”
School resource officers have also been tagging along with the bus and if you are lucky, you might catch one of them reading. Johnson City Police Officer and SRO Eric Hilton took time to read to students at a stop at Heritage Trailer Park.
He said he enjoys seeing the students smile and it is a way for the police officers to show communities another side of themselves.
“I think it gives us an opportunity to show a different side of what some of these children think police officers are,” Hilton said. “It’s an extension of what we do during the school year as school resource officers, as we build that relationship with students.”
Bookworm Mobile Schedule:
Mondays: 1) Heritage Trailer Park – 10:15 – 11:00am
2) Longview/Mountain View/Houston Trailer Park – 11:15am – 12:00pm
3) Blue Ridge – 12:15 –1:00pm
Tuesdays: 1) Jefferson Villas – 10:15 – 11:15am
2) Mountain View Road Apartments (lower and upper complexes) – 11:30am – 1:00pm
Wednesdays: 1) Heritage Trailer Park– 10:15 – 11:00am
2) Ramblewood Estates Trailer Park on Carter Sells Road – 11:15am – 12:00pm
3) West Walnut Street Trailer Park – 12:15 – 1:00pm
Thursdays: 1) Clark Manor – 10:15 – 11:30am
2) Tyler Apartments – 11:45 – 1:00pm