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TEBI partners with LCPS for Book Buddy program

The Elmore Bolling Initiative Inc. (TEBI) is proudly working with the Lowndes County Public Schools to bring a new program to three elementary schools.

Known as the Book Buddy Program, the new program matches students with a volunteer “book buddy” who commits to sending one new book a month to their buddy. The pairing is designed to encourage students to strengthen their reading skills and develop a love for reading. So far, 37 children in Lowndes County have been paired with a book buddy.

The decision to implement the Book Buddy program came after Francina Claibon Carter, who serves as chair of the TEBI’s Educational Essentials Committee, met with Lowndes County Public Schools Superintendent Jason Burroughs.

TEBI board member Ronda Daniels, who is the media specialist at Hayneville and Lowndes County middle schools, helped spearhead the effort to get the Book Buddy program in the three elementary schools: Central, White Hall and Jackson Steele in Lowndes County.

TEBI Board member Jenny Weisz of Boston was instrumental in connecting students with members of her church and other contacts in Boston who were willing to serve as volunteer buddies. “Children like receiving a special book of their own in the mail each month from their Book Buddy. Discussing the books over the phone helps the Book Buddies to get to know the children and see which type of book to send the next month. If other children in Lowndes County Public Schools are interested we would love to match them up with a Book Buddy too”, says Jenny Weisz. Fourteen additional children have been invited to participate in the Book Buddy Program.

Jackson- Steele Elementary third-grader Symiah Middleton, at Jackson-Steele Elementary was paired with Oneeka Williams, a physician in Boston.  The buddies have something in common: they are both published authors. Dr. Williams is the author of the Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo series of books for children, and Symiah recently published her first book.

TEBI also recently provided a donation of $500 to encourage Lowndes County middle school students to excel in their reading, too. The funds are used to provide gift cards and other reading incentives.

TEBI was founded by Lowndes County native Josephine Bolling McCall, who serves as the Initiative’s president. McCall is the author The Penalty for Success: My Father was Lynched in Lowndes County, Alabama, which was published in 2015. The book is about TEBI’s namesake and Bolling’s father, Elmore Bolling. TEBI has donated several copies of the book to the libraries of the Lowndes County Public Schools.

In addition to the Book Buddy Program, book donations and the monetary donation, TEBI has supported Calhoun and Central High School 11th graders in an ACT Boot Camp. The four-week boot camp was held from 2:35 to 4:30 twice a week, providing comprehensive instruction for the ACT.

Because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the camp has been conducted by combining virtual interactive live lectures via Zoom, ACT Testive, and A- List online software and portal material.

Instructors for the camp included:

 Adolphus Austin McDonald currently enrolled in Clemson University’s doctoral Educational Leadership Program

Carolyn Thomas,  who holds a master of accountancy and is the  director of the Pilgrim Rest ACT Boot Camp

Morgan Thomas, who holds a bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham