It was two weeks before the grant application was due and not a student was stirring at Chris Akkerman Elementary school. It was past 5 p.m. and the dedicated teachers were huddled around knee high tables working into the night to fill out the school’s grant application.

All the hard work paid off as the Edwards Literacy grant provided the school with an astonishing amount to the teachers: $25,000. “I thought maybe we would be getting $3,000 to $5,000. When I heard it was $25,000 I almost started bawling,” said Darlene Rosin.

Joan Murtagh, Assistant Principal, said the school used the money to purchase 3,000 new books, the best quality book tape and stickers to mark the book levels.

An announcement was made in September to the students, who were excited to hear that they would be getting three thousand new books on fiction, non-fiction, poetry and letters to give them plenty of variety during reading time. The books are from PM, PM plus and Oxford Reading tree series and come in bulk for each reading level.

“The students are passionate about their books,” said Darlene Rosin. Brenda Hofer proved that when she leafed through the students’ responses to what books they liked best – all of them!

The school is able to buy $300 worth of new books per grade once a year, but with seven grade one classes and 25 students in each, there was a lesson in sharing amongst the students and teachers. Throughout the school year, some of the favourite books became “too well loved” to continue on to the next year. These books then become fantastic writing prompts as the teachers could cut the pages in half and use the photos, but not so great for reading. It was clear that the teachers and the students couldn’t be happier with their 3,000 new books.

For many students at Chris Akkerman, English is their second language and the books help them better understand western culture as well as provide an opportunity to hear and see well written language. This not only helps the students, but some families as they are able to read and learn together.

When asked what they could say to the donors of the Edwards Literacy Grant, the response was a little physical.

“Darlene might hug him,” joked Anica Robinson.

“We are so grateful and thankful,” said Brenda Hofer.