A “B and B” is what Dr. Robbie Anderson calls Johnson City Schools new pilot Bookworm Mobile, which will be reaching out to many of school system’s communities this summer.

Filled with free books and nutritious breakfasts for young students in those neighborhoods, this mobile unit will help fight against a “summer slide” reading gap that occurs over the warmer months between school years.

Anderson, director of accountability and improvement for the school system, worked with several parties to put this pilot program together.

Several groups were all striving to do something like this — a way to reach more poverty-stricken neighborhoods in Johnson City over the summer, and Anderson was able to put it all together.

Already having an activity bus from the school system was a big factor.

On Thursday afternoon, those at the Langston-Biddle Maintenance Center were still putting the final touches on the bus so it could both deliver books and breakfasts to students beginning June 28. Carpet was being installed and decals would be placed on the exterior walls of the bus next.

On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from June 28-July 21, the bus will stop at two different locations each morning. On Tuesdays, the bus will be in Heritage from 8:15-9:15 a.m., then the Houston neighborhood from 9:30-10:30 a.m. The first stop on Wednesdays will be Jefferson Villa, then Timberlake. Thursdays will consist of a stop at Clark Manor and then Tyler, with the stops at the same times as Tuesday’s stops.

Anderson said the best way to combat a lack of readership by students over the summer in these neighborhoods is to get out there and deliver the books.

From the schools corresponding to the neighborhoods that will be visited, there will be plans to have school resource officers, principals, teachers and volunteers, all who want to help.

Two thousand of the books offered by the Bookworm Mobile will come in crates. They were donated and procurred by Science Hill High School’s Random Acts of Kindness Club under teacher Tracy Hoilman.

Anderson said that by bridging that summer reading gap, you have much better academic conclusions for students who need that extra help.

“You’re definitely lose ground if you stop reading,” Anderson said. “But also, reading over the summer helps students gain ground, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

As the first year of a pilot program, the possibilities are endless, but Anderson wants to see how this first year goes. If successful, and Anderson has every reason to believe that will be the case, the program could add buses and other neighborhoods.

Anyone can check out the van before Monday’s School Board Meeting at 5:45 p.m. It will be parked outside of the school’s administrative offices at 100 E. Maple St.

Email Tony Casey at tcasey@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow Tony Casey on Twitter @TonyCaseyJCP. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonycaseyjournalist.

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