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A Gift of Language: Third Graders Across Island Get Free Dictionaries

Oct. 24, 2007 — With the help of volunteers from MidIsle Rotary and funding from the Dictionary Project Fund, more than 700 third graders at public, private and parochial schools received their very own dictionaries Wednesday.
"A dictionary is on school-supply lists for parents, but most of them don't see it as a priority," said Faith George, assistant principal at Claude O. Markoe Elementary School in Frederiksted. "This is a truly useful resource for the children."
Gretta Moorhead, a former English teacher in the St. Thomas public schools, established the Dictionary Project Fund in 2002 as a permanent fund at the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands. Educators believe children in third grade have the reading maturity to use a dictionary as a learning tool; they are becoming independent learners.
"Third graders will say to teachers, 'How do you spell that word?' and all of a sudden they realize they can look it up," Moorhead said.
The project is modeled after a program developed in Charleston, S.C., where reading scores were well below average, as in the territory. Seventy percent of fifth graders in the Virgin Islands read below or not at grade-level expectations.
"When the children take the Iowa Basic achievement test, we will see the vocabulary improvement and enrichment they gained from this project," George said.
“In our fifth year of providing dictionaries for Virgin Island third graders, we are thankful for the ongoing generosity of our donors and volunteers, most of whom are annual participants,” Moorhead said.
Gretta's project is more of a funding of sweat equity, said Dee Baecher-Brown, president of CFVI: "It's a labor of love from volunteers."
One of the volunteers from MidIsle Rotary club was Celia Daniel, who helped deliver and hand out the dictionaries.
"This is going to be the first time I use a dictionary," said third grader Jannbia Sweeney. "And I want to thank the people who gave it to me."
Most of the funds for this project come from small donations, not major funding, Baecher-Brown said. A $50 contribution buys dictionaries for a class of 30 students. The total cost of the more than 1,700 dictionaries for this year was around $3,000, according to Baecher–Brown.
The foundation was created to serve both donors and nonprofit organizations of the Virgin Islands that want to ensure the highest quality of life for both present and future generations. Its primary goal is to build a growing collection of permanent funds, the income from which will be used to enhance the educational, physical, social, cultural and environmental well-being of the islands' people, according to the CFVI website.
Currently there are 90 named funds at the CFVI providing scholarships, grants and supporting programs in the territory. CFVI produces the annual KIDS COUNT report on the status of children and families in the Virgin Islands.
Individuals or businesses wanting to know more about CFVI or interested in establishing a fund should call 774-6031.
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Oct. 24, 2007 -- With the help of volunteers from MidIsle Rotary and funding from the Dictionary Project Fund, more than 700 third graders at public, private and parochial schools received their very own dictionaries Wednesday.
"A dictionary is on school-supply lists for parents, but most of them don't see it as a priority," said Faith George, assistant principal at Claude O. Markoe Elementary School in Frederiksted. "This is a truly useful resource for the children."
Gretta Moorhead, a former English teacher in the St. Thomas public schools, established the Dictionary Project Fund in 2002 as a permanent fund at the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands. Educators believe children in third grade have the reading maturity to use a dictionary as a learning tool; they are becoming independent learners.
"Third graders will say to teachers, 'How do you spell that word?' and all of a sudden they realize they can look it up," Moorhead said.
The project is modeled after a program developed in Charleston, S.C., where reading scores were well below average, as in the territory. Seventy percent of fifth graders in the Virgin Islands read below or not at grade-level expectations.
"When the children take the Iowa Basic achievement test, we will see the vocabulary improvement and enrichment they gained from this project," George said.
“In our fifth year of providing dictionaries for Virgin Island third graders, we are thankful for the ongoing generosity of our donors and volunteers, most of whom are annual participants,” Moorhead said.
Gretta's project is more of a funding of sweat equity, said Dee Baecher-Brown, president of CFVI: "It's a labor of love from volunteers."
One of the volunteers from MidIsle Rotary club was Celia Daniel, who helped deliver and hand out the dictionaries.
"This is going to be the first time I use a dictionary," said third grader Jannbia Sweeney. "And I want to thank the people who gave it to me."
Most of the funds for this project come from small donations, not major funding, Baecher-Brown said. A $50 contribution buys dictionaries for a class of 30 students. The total cost of the more than 1,700 dictionaries for this year was around $3,000, according to Baecher–Brown.
The foundation was created to serve both donors and nonprofit organizations of the Virgin Islands that want to ensure the highest quality of life for both present and future generations. Its primary goal is to build a growing collection of permanent funds, the income from which will be used to enhance the educational, physical, social, cultural and environmental well-being of the islands' people, according to the CFVI website.
Currently there are 90 named funds at the CFVI providing scholarships, grants and supporting programs in the territory. CFVI produces the annual KIDS COUNT report on the status of children and families in the Virgin Islands.
Individuals or businesses wanting to know more about CFVI or interested in establishing a fund should call 774-6031.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.