April 19, 2018

Magic Touches Local Orlando School Schools

By Debra Lau Whelan

Four elementary school libraries in Orlando, FL, have each received 1,000 Scholastic books and a $3,500 stipend to purchase additional materials, thanks to the Orlando Magic basketball team’s Read to Achieve program. Hamilton Elementary, Ventura Elementary, Nap Ford Community School, and Lake Weston Elementary–all at-risk schools with a majority of students from poor families–were chosen because of their students’ low reading test scores, says Magic spokesman Scott Bowman.

“The greatest need at these schools was to update and replenish books,” says Bowman, adding that there was also a shortage of Spanish-language books to cater to a burgeoning Hispanic community. School media centers also received $10,000 worth of LeapFrog’s Literacy Center and Leap Track products, as well as Magic beanbags, pillows, chairs, blankets, and balloons to help increase traffic at the library.

The Magic, which targets K-5th grade schools, worked with each school’s curriculum specialist to help choose software, such as Accelerated Reader’s, that measures students’ progress in reading. There have already been some positive results. Wheatley Elementary, one of the three school libraries chosen by Magic last year, has recorded a 20 percent increase in its fifth-grade standardized reading test scores.

Started in October 2001, Read to Achieve is a yearlong program funded by the National Basketball Association, which encourages young people to develop a lifelong love of reading. All 29 NBA teams take part in the program.