After the events of 12/14 at Sandy Hook School, Victorinox Swiss Army Director of Marketing Renee Hourigan said the Monroe-based company wanted to help the Newtown Public Schools somehow.
“There was an overall desire to make a gesture of some kind,” said Ms Hourigan, who explained, at first, multiple options were presented to the school district.
By the end of August, everything had been worked out to authorize a $50,000 donation, in two installments of $25,000, to the district’s Readers Workshop program. The Board of Education was updated about the donation through a letter to Interim Superintendent of Schools John Reed presented during the board’s September 4 meeting.
Ms Hourigan worked with a representative of the district to determine that Victorinox Swiss Army would also provide ten classrooms, all at the middle school level, with shelving.
During a July 16 presentation to the Board of Education about Reader’s Workshop, the board learned of the school district’s three-year implementation plan. The program was first implemented at Middle Gate Elementary School during the 2012-13 school year, and it has expanded to Newtown Middle School for this school year. According to Assistant Superintendent of Schools Linda Gejda, roughly 60 Newtown teachers participated in a Columbia Reader’s Workshop training session held at Reed Intermediate School over the past summer.
The Reader’s Workshop program uses classroom libraries to provide accessible reading combined with lessons at reader-appropriate levels. According to the July presentation, the program emphasizes building reader stamina and volume.
Ms Hourigan said Victorinox Swiss Army employees “felt a close relationship with Newtown” following the events of 12/14, and wanted to help in some way that would impact students’ lives. She said the gesture of supporting the Reader’s Workshop program will help students while not being a constant reminder of what happened at Sandy Hook School.
During the July presentation, NMS Reading/Language Arts Coordinator Cathy Cincogrono estimated the middle school would need 500 books to provide each of the school’s language arts rooms with what would be needed for the Reader’s Workshop program. She also estimated providing the 500 books would cost approximately $50,000.
Victorinox Swiss Army President Rene Stutz wrote in the letter to Dr Reed, “On behalf of Victorinox Swiss Army and its employees, we are very excited to partner with you on this wonderful program.”
Once everything is settled with the first installment of the donation, Ms Hourigan said teachers at the middle school will be able to start supplying books for the Reader’s Workshop program.