Read on! Elementary Students Meet Their LASD e-Pals, a Program to Encourage Interest in Reading and Writing
On Friday, May 26, 2017, after five months of communication, students and their LASD correspondents finally met in person. After much anticipation, all of the pen-pals convened at George Washington Carver Elementary School and greeted each other face to face!
In an effort to promote literacy and education as a crime prevention strategy, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department partnered with George Washington Carver Elementary School in a pen-pal program to improve reading and writing proficiency. This strategy is a literacy initiative that consists of an electronic pen pal mentoring program with the children, writing on a regular basis to an assigned “e-Pal.” The program was designed to empower, encourage and foster students to develop a love of learning, reading, and writing.
In January 2017, 62 third grade students and 20 special education students were matched with 73 Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies and members from the Black Peace Officers Association (BPOA). Since then, the e-Pals exchanged email messages, handwritten letters, and even received correspondences from Sheriff McDonnell. Over the course of five months, the children were communicating with new friends while improving their spelling, reading comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, writing, and more.
Building off of last year’s success, e-Pal expanded to include a reading program. Research has shown that reading out loud to children is an important activity that provides exposure to language, creates a positive association with books, and helps children develop stronger reading skills. On a weekly basis, for three months, deputy sheriff volunteers read over 18 scholastic books to the third graders and engaged them in a question and answer discussion. The school administrators noted the reading program was a great addition and the students looked forward to seeing the deputy sheriff volunteers.
The program wasn’t just for the kids; even the adults found the experience to be invaluable, not only in cultivating positive law enforcement-community relationship, but also the opportunity to inspire a young person was extremely rewarding for deputy personnel.
Third-grader Luis Calixto summed up the experience the best in his handwritten letter to Lieutenant Chad Sauter, “When I’m big I want to be a police [officer] and get the people doing bad stuff. Anyway, I want to be like you! I will study a lot, and more.”
As a reward for completing the program all of the 82 students will receive a refurbished bicycle and a brand new helmet, generously donated by the Century Station Youth Activity League (YAL). Also, to encourage the students’ reading, writing and comprehension over the summer months, the Sheriff’s Department provided students with a gift bag containing coloring books, crayons, personalized writing journals that includes 30 handwritten creative writing prompts, 3D bookmaking kits, bookmarks, and scholastic books from the County of Los Angeles Public Library.
George Washington Carver Elementary School is located at 1425 East 120th Street, Los Angeles, in the patrol jurisdiction of Century Sheriff’s Station
For further information, contact Sheriff’s Information Bureau at (213) 229-1700.
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Jim McDonnell, Sheriff
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
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