Bagatelle Primary School wins Literacy Prize

Recognizing the outstanding teamwork of Bagatelle Primary School’s principal, teachers, and library managers and their dedication to child literacy and a vibrant school library, Hands Across the Sea has awarded the school the 2016-2017 Hands Across the Sea Literacy Award for Dominica.

The prize is U.S. $1,000 in brand new books or literacy support materials of the school’s choice.

Hands Across the Sea has supported Bagatelle Primary School with more than 1,000 brand new, targeted, asked-for books since 2011. In recent years, the school’s library managers, Hilcia Harriette and Melina Anselm, have created a welcoming and multifunctional library space, and have received support from Principal Angela Gregoire and the school’s teachers at every step. The Hands Literacy Link for Dominica, Celia Sorhaindo, has also advised and supported the school with its library improvements. The success of the library is reflected in the national assessment scores of the students—85% to 100% of Bagatelle students are reading at or above grade level.

Hands Across the Sea’s Co-Founder and Executive Director Harriet Linskey said, “Principal Gregoire, her staff, and her library managers are demonstrating a strong commitment to promoting reading and writing by making their library an important part of the school.” Hands Across the Sea, founded in 2007, has served 11,660 children at 85 Dominica primary and secondary schools and reading programs since 2008, sending a total of 61,330 new and near-new books. As part of each year’s Hands Wish Lists, educators specify the types of books most needed for their school.

“Our dream at Hands Across the Sea is for every primary and secondary school in Dominica to have a first-class lending library filled with new amazing books, books that have been requested by each school’s educators, and that the library become an integral, essential part of the school,” says Tom “T.L.” Linskey, Co-Founder of Hands Across the Sea. “We believe that to get children hooked on reading you have to put new, exciting books in their hands—and that’s what we do, because Hands Across the Sea sends new books from the world’s best children’s book and educational publishers. We also believe that these rejuvenated school libraries need guidance to come into being, and they need support and monitoring to be sustained year after year. Our on-island Hands Literacy Link, Celia Sorhaindo, who is the Hands Across the Sea representative on Dominica, helps make the dream of a fantastic library come true: she listens, she troubleshoots, she finds solutions, and she makes a sustainable lending library a reality.”

Hands Across the Sea is dedicated to raising the literacy levels of Eastern Caribbean children on the islands of Antigua, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada. Since founding the organization in 2007, Hands Across the Sea has shipped over 265,170 books to the region through its Caribbean Literacy and School Support (CLASS) program. The CLASS program, in concert with each school’s Hands Wish Lists (school principals, teachers, and U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers tell Hands which books they need), works in three ways: 1. Send Great New Books; 2. Create Lending Libraries (usually a school library); and 3. Foster Sustainability of the library through support at the school, the local community, and the hands-on efforts of on-island Hands Literacy Links.

On Dominica, Hands Across the Sea partners with Rosalie Bay Resort, Scotiabank Bright Future, the Sandals Foundation, and Expedia Canada, while working closely with the U.S. Peace Corps and the Ministry of Education.

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