COOS BAY — The Coquille Indian Tribe has been recognized as a school sponsor for Madison Elementary.
The tribe awarded $5,000 to benefit the Start Making a Reader Today Program, better known as the SMART Program. The non-profit has provided almost 1,400 books to children at Madison where 101 children are served, including all of its kindergarten students in its K-SMART Program.
“We want the same at Blossom Gulch Elementary, where every kindergartner is served,” said Cheryl Brown, South Coast Area Manager for SMART. “At Madison, we had one site coordinator and 18 leaders. That’s amazing.”
SMART is a statewide organization that reads to children one-on-one through volunteers in the community.
“We spark the joy of reading but don’t teach reading because that’s a teacher’s job,” Brown said. “Our volunteers are paired with the same child through October to May, come to the same school, same day, same time with the same child and read for 28 weeks.”
Every child in the program receives two new books every month for a total of 14 books by the end of the SMART school year.
In Coos County this year, 531 children participated in the program and received 6,400 books. Statewide, it serves 11,000 children.
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“The love the Coquille Tribe,” Brown said. “They have been strong SMART supporters since the beginning of it coming to Coos County. The tribe is a wonderful partner.”
Madison Elementary showed its kindergarten students a banner on Tuesday that said the “SMART Program here is supported by the Coquille Indian Tribe.”
According to the tribe’s community fund administrator, Jackie Chambers, it chose to support the school in the SMART Program this year because it is important to them to help children.
“A big part of tribal culture is taking care of the youth and elders, which is just part of what we do,” she said. “SMART is enhancing reading and providing books, things not all kids might get at home.”
Coquille Tribe Police Chief Scott LaFevre also attended the assembly that thanked the tribe for its support, telling The World that he thinks its wonderful.
“It’s funding from the tribe that’s going to our neighbors and community to help the reading program, to help education within Coos County,” he said. “Everyone is benefiting from this.”