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Oxford

LOU Reads Commission Implements New Reading Bus

By Anne Marie Hanna
hottytoddy.com contributor

Beginning this summer, LOU Reads Commission and the Lafayette County Literacy Council have partnered to bring a new “Literacy Bus” to the larger Oxford-Lafayette area. The vehicle will serve as a mobile effort to increase awareness of the importance of fostering early childhood literacy, as well as provide an opportunity to deliver books to underserved readers in the community.

Executive Director of United Way of Oxford & Lafayette County Kurt Brummett said he believes the bus will propel children and their families to take a renewed interest in reading and literacy education. Photo by Anne Marie Hanna.

The organization is committed to supporting young readers and promoting satisfactory reading proficiency goals by the third grade, according to the LOU Reads Commission’s official website. 
L.O.U. Reads Commission’s Community Director Tamara Hillmer, who was also elected to serve as the director of early childhood and reading development in May 2018, wants the bus to represent a collaborative effort among community members, literacy organizations, and educators, all with the fixed goal of taking reading “to the streets.”
“In securing the bus this summer, we’ve taken it to areas within the Oxford-Lafayette community where children may experience ‘the summer slide,’ with downtime from school resulting in decreased literacy ability,” Hillmer said. “We want to use this resource to make reading and education equitable to all, and we’re excited to meet [the community’s] children where they are, physically and educationally.”
In implementing the new bus and its subsequent reading initiatives, Lafayette’s literacy organizations can more easily distribute age-appropriate books, encompassing a wider range of children within the county’s limits. Executive Director of United Way of Oxford & Lafayette County Kurt Brummett, who serves on the board for LOU Reads Commission’s school preparedness discussions, believes the bus will propel children and their families to take a renewed interest in reading and literacy education.
“I think one of the biggest accomplishments with the bus is being able to take books and the overarching discussion into different communities, as opposed to asking people to come to the library or another specific location,” Brummett said. “Having the ability to have the bus go to them, and allowing literacy to be readily accessible, eliminates some of the reasons why people can’t make it to literacy events.”
Photo by Anne Marie Hanna.

United Way of Oxford & Lafayette County is a partner program of both the Lafayette County Literacy Council and LOU Reads Coalition, serving as a “convener” of local non-profit organizations. Acting as a single-entity facilitator, United Way assisted with the bus’s utilization through their work in providing educational service, funding, and volunteer help.
Teresa Satterfield, Assistant Director of United Way of Oxford & Lafayette County and previous director of Volunteer Oxford, said she hopes the bus’s versatility will help revive young learners outside of Oxford’s immediate downtown and university district.
“Being able to take the literacy bus to places like Abbeville or Harmontown, and to reach communities that [LOU Reads Commission] has struggled to reach in the past, is a huge accomplishment,” Satterfield said. “I think it has the potential to instill that excitement about reading that a lot of kids have lost in the modern age, but goes even further by keeping that excitement growing.”
In order to raise awareness about instilling valuable educational practices, LOU Reads Commission operates by a “Community Solutions Action Plan” (CSAP) to gain better understanding of educational discrepancies in the community, finding ways to foster growth and change.
“[The bus] further builds on the success of the smaller, ‘free library’ stands that are around town,” Brummett said. “If your family didn’t have a car or transportation, those children still have access to free literacy materials and a chance at excelling their education.”
For more information on the bus’s locations and events, visit their Facebook page. 


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