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Maie Ellis Elementary sparks literacy with grant from Ben Carson Reading Project


Last updated 10/15/2019 at 11:55am

FALLBROOK – In an era when children spend a growing number of hours each day hunched over smartphones and tablets, students at Maie Ellis Elementary School now have a place to lose themselves in actual books.

Housed in the school's library and stocking more than 500 books, the new space was created with a portion of funding from a $17,000 grant from the Ben Carson Reading Project, founded by U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson and his wife Candy Carson.

Candy Carson visited Fallbrook, Sept. 20, to participate in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the space, dubbed "Camp Read" and decorated as a National Parks-style campsite, complete with a mock campfire surrounded by comfortable camping chairs perfect for kicking back with a good book.

"Camp Read is designed to help students discover the joy of independent leisure reading in a warm, inviting environment with access to the hundreds of high-interest bilingual books donated by the Reading Project," Alex Gonzalez, Ph.D., principal of Maie Ellis Elementary, said. "As a dual-language school where students learn in both English and Spanish, we know that reading for fun plays a critical role in helping students excel academically, regardless of what language is spoken at home."

"The kids love hanging out with a book at Camp Read," the school's library technician Katie Draves said. "I've been open every morning since the ribbon-cutting and we've had a full house ever since."

Carson, addressing an audience of several hundred students, teachers, administrators, board members and parents, spoke of the resilience and learning power of the brain. After sharing the story of her pediatric neurosurgeon husband treating a young cancer patient who, after having half of her brain surgically removed, studied so hard that she became the top student in her math class, Carson asked, "If she could do that with only half a brain, what can you do with a whole brain and a little determination?"

"We are thankful to the Carsons and all the wonderful supporters who help us promote literacy at our school," Gonzalez said. "It's their generosity that made this special reading place possible."

The Ben Carson Reading Project has funded more than 200 "reading rooms" in schools nationwide, with a goal of encouraging students to become lifelong readers and learners.

Submitted by Maie Ellis Elementary School.


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