ROCKBRIDGE READS! Since 2013, United Way of Rockbridge has introduced a collective impact umbrella program called Rockbridge READS! in addition to funding individual programs at agencies. Rockbridge READS! supports initiatives aimed at early childhood literacy for children pre-K to 3rd grade. These initiatives include Born Learning and the Literacy programs of the Rockbridge Regional Library, pre-K literacy tools and information for parents, and free books at Community Festivals, through area agencies, and through the Annual Christmas Basket program.
During the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years, United Way members, community volunteers, The Rockbridge Education Consortium (W&L/SVU) and representatives of Buena Vista, Lexington, and Rockbridge County schools met to plan a countywide event.
On April 14, 2016 Rockbridge Reads! offered free admission for movies and activities at Hull’s Drive-In. Especially for Pre-K children, all area families and young children were invited. Representatives of Lexington City Schools, Rockbridge County Schools and Buena Vista Schools were present plus face painting, fire and police departments, a book exchange, a bookmobile, a school bus and representatives from community organizations. United Way provided bags for each school system to distribute. Inside the bags were books and several other school items to encourage the children’s interest in reading.
Prior to the event, Washington and Lee’s Teaching Elementary Reading class filmed a video called “A Day in K.” The short film was an introduction to the kindergarten experience in the local elementary schools. “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” was the main feature at the drive-in.
According to Tim Martino, principal of Waddell Elementary School, “A Day In K was a tremendous success. The United Way should be commended for all their work in organizing and making the event a reality. There was such a positive energy that evening and you could feel the excitement build as the night progressed. The rising kindergartners were treated to a special night that will hopefully continue for years to come!”
Members of the Rockbridge Reads! committee are Lisa Clark, Sherry Higgins, Tracy Hinty, Scott Jeffries, Kim Kearney, Tim Martino, Haley Sigler, Bob Glidden, Margy Werling and Janet Lemmer, with Kelly Fujiwara as chair.