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Roscoe Middle School teacher staying connected to kids through reading

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ROSCOE (WREX) — School's out.

Officially.

On Friday, Governor JB Pritzker announced the end of in-person learning through the end of the school year.

Kids will not be back in class with their teachers until (hopefully) this fall.

For the last month schools across Illinois have worked on e-learning initiatives so education could continue outside of school walls.

While learning is top priority, the emotional loss for kids and teachers is a tough hole to fill.

However, that challenge has been taken on at Roscoe Middle School through the drive of Laurie Evans.

Evans is a paraprofessional but also runs the library and learning center at the school.

Since kids were taken out of the classroom, Evans has worked hard to make sure they still have access to books they need.

"We have a lot of big readers here at RMS and even though they have access to a lot of books online," Evans.

"There are a lot of series we have here that maybe they weren't able to get a book in the middle of a series and didn't want to buy it so it's import they were able to get books from our library."

Laurie has taken the lead of the Accelerated Reader program at the school.

The program provides online tests for kids to take to show what they learned from the book they just read.

Beyond this, Evans runs a different group that adds a bit of competition to get kids more excited about reading.

"I do what's called a 'millionaire club' here. It starts first quarter and goes through the whole year," Evans said.

"Our program online can tell me how many words are read by each student. At the end each quarter, I will look at that and they get awards."

RMS uses a computer system called Destiny Discover through the library.

The system allows students to virtually check out books they want from the library's data base.

"Even though some of them say 'I just can't find a book I like,' we find them books they like. It's all about getting them interested in something to read," Evans said.

"I come to school and I can see what they reserved and then I pull it and check it out to them so that's really slick."

Once kids have picked a book. the next step is getting it to them.

That's when Evans suits up.

She throws on her mask and gloves and waits for the students to get to school for her curbside book delivery.

"When this whole COVID-19 started, of course, everything shut down and I was just thinking they can do pickup for food and many other items so why not pick up books,'" Evans said.

Evans is nearly a blur, running back and forth from the school doors to car windows to hand off new books to kids and take returns back to the library.

Kids can even come in for help with their computers if they are having issues.

It also keeps the emotional connection alive.

Evans misses her kids and the feeling is mutual.

The brief interaction from dropping off and picking up books helps bridge the emotional gap between student and teacher.

"Seeing their faces when they drive up, they're just very excited to see me and see the fact they come to get more books. It's just a fun thing to do so I really enjoy it," Evans said.

"It's a lot for everybody right now but our school is awesome and our staff and teachers are just great so I would like to just give a big shoutout to our whole school!"

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Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at eleake@wrex.com or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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