Jean Woodside

Learning doesn’t have to stop for students because it’s the middle of summer complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Two University View Academy teachers made sure their students are engaged by applying for a prestigious grant to provide free books sent to students’ homes.  Jean Woodside and Dr. Phaedra Early used the DonorsChoose organization and competed with more than a million other teachers across the United States.  

Phaedra Early



“The titles we chose are high interest, engaging stories that will hopefully spark a love for books in a series,” Ms. Woodside said.  “Some students will be able to read on their own, while others will experience the stories as a read-aloud with a family member.”  Research shows there is continued growth for students during the summer months when they continue to engage with print and stories. Woodside will be having Zoom book club meetings in July with students who want to share their thoughts, favorite parts, and next book choice! 

Dr. Early’s DonorsChoose project was the concluding surprise to a year of introducing new books to her 2nd-grade students.  “We worked our way through several books, keying in on falling in love with characters through reading books in a series,” she said.   “My drive in doing this project was for students to have an actual chapter book in their hands of their own, sparking a love of summer reading.”  

DonorsChoose was started by a history teacher in the Bronx 20 years ago.  It’s a nonprofit organization that allows individuals to donate directly to public school classroom projects. The organization has been given Charity Navigator’s highest rating every year since 2005.  In January 2018, DonorsChoose announced that one million projects had been funded.     


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