Enriching Lives through Literacy

Gina Silecchia, an English as a New Language first-grade teacher at both Cornwell Avenue and George Washington elementary schools, received a $500 grant from the Long Island Language Arts Council for her Bilingual Book Exchange Program.
Ms. Silecchia’s program allows first-graders to choose books to read at home with their parents in both their native language and English. After finishing the book, the students will complete an activity on it, developing their vocabulary skills in both languages. The children and their families will evaluate the program at its conclusion with a survey.
"By empowering parents to be active participants in their children's education, we are opening doors to increasing vocabulary in both languages,” said Silecchia. “In addition, students' love of literacy will increase exponentially by actively engaging in literacy activities in both their home language and English."
According to LILAC’s website, to qualify for the elementary school mini-grant, an educator’s proposal must support literacy instruction by building or enhancing classroom libraries; increasing the use of technology in instruction, affording students more opportunities to interact with and respond to texts, film and other media; providing professional development opportunities linked to the Common Core Standards for teachers and administrators; or creating one or more content area units which reflect the Common Core Standards in literacy.    
Applicants needed to submit a narrative description and rationale for the proposal and a basic budget plan indicating how the grant will be spent.
Kathleen O’Farrell, the district’s K-12 director of English, reading and library services, commended Silecchia for her dedication and hard work in establishing this program.
“I am delighted with the ways Ms. Silecchia is engaging our students and their families through enriching literacy activities,” said O’Farrell.