Early reading proficiency is the single most important factor in the long term success of students, and is the preeminent goal of the Vista Unified School District (VUSD).The project targets are all elementary schools in VUSD (covering both Vista and parts of Oceanside). While average SES levels differ across schools in VUSD, every elementary school has a significant population of students who are English Language Learners and/or come from low SES families. First grade students will be the beneficiaries of this program as ultimate recipients of a book of their own after a classroom reading session conducted by members of the Rotary Club of Vista. This program has been offered for the last several years by the Tri-City Rotary Club (formerly named the Vista Hi Noon Rotary Club), which merged with the Rotary Club of Vista effective July 1, 2020. Thus, the 2021-22 grant will be administered and conducted by the merged Rotary Club of Vista.
Developing interest and competence in reading must start at an early age and VUSD enrolls an unusually high proportion of English as a Second Language students as well as students from families living below the poverty level. This necessitates intensive reading intervention programs at early grade levels. This grant allows our club to support these intervention efforts through classroom reading and individual ownership of books. The grant, taking advantage of discounted availability of books, enables us to serve a minimum of 1,500 first grade students. Our program will involve local Rotarians reading and distributing books to all students in VUSD first grade classrooms. For many of these students, it is either the first book they have owned themselves or one of very few books in their home. Target dates for project reading and distribution of books are September 2021 through December 2021. Unlike last year's grant activities which were modified due to COVID restrictions, we anticipate in-person readings in all classrooms this fall.
We have offered this program the past several years and because of the success of our previous efforts, the teachers and administrators of the district are totally committed to supporting us to ensure project success. Both VUSD administrators and the President of the Vista Teachers Association are members of our club and participate in project implementation. Because of COVID restrictions we were not able to read in-person during 2020-21, since first grade classes met virtually for most of the school year and when they reopened late spring, it was not deemed advisable to do in-person reading. We are definitely looking forward to being back with first graders face-to-face this fall. Attached are pictures from previous project years. The pictures tell the story better than any written narrative.