Blazing a trail for literacy, citizenship

An award-winning teacher in Northern Kentucky is taking literacy on the road. Lisa Lokesak, a third grade teacher at New Haven Elementary School in Boone County, Kentucky, launched the Book Blazer program about 8 years ago to help target at-risk neighborhoods by taking books and a passion for learning to their home communities.
 
In the classroom, Lokesak worked with at-risk kids, some transient, who actually lost library checkout privileges because life circumstances and instability prevented them from returning books. “I wanted to find a way to put books in the hands of these children, books they wouldn’t have to return,” she says. Inspired by the Book Mobile program, Lokesak successfully appealed to the PTA and Sam’s Club, procuring $1,500 in startup funds. Scholastic doubled her money, providing $3,000 worth of books which she loaded in her car and drove to at-risk neighborhoods in Boone County.
 
Since its inception, the Book Blazer program has given away thousands of books to kids and families in the school district around New Haven Elementary. In addition, the program now includes both print and audio selections for adults who just need a little encouragement to enhance literacy for themselves and their families. The Book Blazer travels to communities in the winter and spring, with supplemental literacy nights held at school.
 
On Tues., Feb. 7, the Cincinnatus Association will honor Lokesak with the C3 Outstanding Educator Award at Northern Kentucky University. In addition to the Book Blazer program, Lokesak has gone on mission trips to Africa and worked closely with Children Inc.’s Service Learning Program on everything from Operation Christmas Child, to fundraising for Haiti, to establishing a community garden. Annette Zottoli of Children’s Inc. says, “Her ability to open kids’ minds to service learning projects is amazing.”
 
“I want kids to learn how to be good citizens,” says Lokesak. “If what I’m doing sparks the imagination of just one child, it’s all worth it.”
 
Do Good:
 
• Donate to the Book Blazer program – money, new books, and Scholastic points are
accepted. Contact [email protected].

• Read to a child.

• Support your teachers by volunteering in the classroom or recognizing them for a job well done.
 

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