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Connection with Business Community Brings Reading Oasis to Pittman Elementary

20496069048_0366dc0074_zAs David Fennelly finishes reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to a group of Pittman Elementary third graders, one of the students excitedly calls out, “read another one.” Story time is over for today. Thanks to this area businessman and philanthropist; however, these students now have enough new books to last them until they head to middle school.

“I just think it’s an amazing opportunity for us as people in the community to become part of the school system,” said Fennelly, who is the chairman of Associated Terminals and Turn Services.

Fennelly sponsored a Reading Oasis for Pittman Elementary through the United Way Club Connect program. Included in this newly decorated corner of the library are physical books, online portal access to books and educational software, and additional reading tools.

Pittman assistant principal Jennifer Miles initiated and applied for the United Way grant that led to the Reading Oasis and the ribbon cutting ceremony held at the school on August 18. The four year commitment also includes teacher training and tools to increase parental involvement.

“It’s going to add a sense of excitement for our children to be able to go to this special place and read,” said Pittman Elementary Principal Angelia Grabert. “There’s beanbags and a listening center, so it’s not your typical classroom setting. It lets them know they can have fun while reading.”

Fennelly is passionate about supporting education, especially when it comes to younger students learning such a bedrock skill.

“In kindergarten through third grade you learn to read,” said Fennelly. “After the third grade you have to be able to read in order to continue to learn.”

This new relationship between Pittman Elementary and their community partner is another example of the many bonds schools in the Jefferson Parish Public School System have formed with the business community. Grabert said it goes back to the timeless saying that “It takes a village to raise a child.”

“By inviting the business community into our schools, we show them the things we are doing in our community,” said Grabert. “They gain a greater appreciation for what we do, and learn how to best support our mission.”

And by supporting the mission of our schools, Fennelly says businesses will undoubtedly see a return on their investment.

“If you stop and think about it, unless we have good, strong communities with younger people coming up through the ranks, we won’t have the employment base that we need,” said Fennelly. “So the time to partner is now, and the time to be involved is now.”