- Associated Press - Sunday, March 2, 2014

OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. (AP) - Kindergarten teacher Jennie Taylor wasn’t exactly a kid in a candy store but the effect was the same.

Taylor was thrilled at seeing $100,000 worth of books being giving away last week to help enhance the reading experience for students in schools with a high percentage of low-income families.

“Look at these,” said Taylor as she lightly brushed her hands over the collection spread out across a long table. “They’re so colorful, just the kinds of books kindergartners will love.”

Taylor, a former DeSoto County Schools teacher of the year who works at Southaven’s Greenbrook Elementary, was among more than 100 other teachers from the county’s 14 Title 1 schools who descended on the system’s technical school for the eastern side of the county, the Career Technology Center East in Olive Branch.

The Commercial Appeal reports (https://bit.ly/1kItpYA ) the windfall also helped another program that prepares juniors and seniors at the tech center for careers in transportation and logistics.

Mike Doss, who teaches the transportation and logistics program, said the center partners with First Book, a national book bank that supplies books to schools and programs nationwide.

“They ship their inventory to us, and we use it in our program to teach our students about warehousing and preparing orders for shipment. When an order is ready to go out to a First Book client, we ship it.,” Doss said.

“They can’t compensate us with money for what we do, so they compensate us with books. We get a percentage, but the catch is that they have to be distributed to local Title 1 schools.”

The school system invited teachers from eligible schools to come to the center and scoop up what they could use for their classrooms, which means young students receiving the books win while older students at the tech center, gaining invaluable real-world job experience, also win.

“We actually run a company,” Doss said. “The kids get all the experience, using the proper equipment, proper industry vocabulary and terms. They use all the equipment. It’s real experience you can’t beat.”

Remington Deshields, an 18-year-old technology center student in the transportation program, said he’s getting experience he couldn’t get anywhere else.

“It’s been pretty valuable, because you learn everyday stuff,” Deshields said during a break.

School system spokeswoman Katherine Nelson said the transportation program is a hidden treasure.

“It’s a new program, small right now,” Nelson said of the program, which has 14 students, “but as word gets out, people are going to realize what a gold nugget this is.”


Information from: The Commercial Appeal, https://www.commercialappeal.com

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