The summer literacy & nutrition outreach program of Alma School District
In 2011, the media specialist at Alma Intermediate, Melinda Bailey, and the K-12 Literacy Specialist, Jami Anne Balkman, wanted to make library services available to students during summer months. Mrs. Bailey and Mrs. Balkman felt this would help reduce the regression in reading some students experience. However, they realized transportation would be a barrier for many children.
Alma’s superintendent, David Woolly, offered the use of a small school bus to take into the rural areas of the school district one day per week. Transportation director, Michael Gibson, and his staff removed seats from a small bus to make way for selves of books. On the first day the bookmobile ran, Mrs. Bailey and Mrs. Balkman served less than 20 children, but the program quickly grew. Over the years, the program has grown and expanded. In 2013, Food Services Director, Debbie Stewart, worked with Mrs. Balkman to include a free sack-lunch giveaway for any child aged 18 and under. By 2015, the bookmobile program was running 3 times per week.
During the 2018 summer, the bookmobile the program served an average of about 190 students per day. On the largest day, the bookmobile delivered 232 sack lunches to children in the Alma area. This program made it possible for students to check out books over 2,700 times during June, July, and August of 2017. This helped students maintain and raise their reading levels over the summer months.
For the Summer 2019 season, the Bookmobile was given a makover! The bus was pinted inside and out, custom shelves were fabricated to hold books, and new lighting was installed. Thanks to the Alma Transportation Department, the bus is more functional and fun than ever before. Watch for the Bookmobile in your neighborhood starting in June.