Weatherford Star-Telegram

Weatherford early literacy program honors late teacher who shared passion for reading

Pre-kindergarten students in the Weatherford school district are benefiting from Heather’s Books, an early literacy program in the memory of teacher Heather Holland.
Pre-kindergarten students in the Weatherford school district are benefiting from Heather’s Books, an early literacy program in the memory of teacher Heather Holland. Courtesy

Heather Holland loved reading, and she passed that passion on to her students her entire time as an elementary school teacher.

Now, in her memory, the Weatherford ISD Education Foundation is promoting Heather’s Books. The program, which recently completed its first year, encourages students to read and makes books more accessible to them.

The Education Foundation board of directors approved a new funding priority in May 2018 designed to honor the legacy of Holland, a Weatherford ISD elementary teacher who died of flu complications in February of last year at only 38.

It was the height of flu season, but prior to contracting the flu, she had been healthy and had no prior medical conditions. It was unusual that someone who was as young and healthy as her would succumb to the flu, so her story was quickly reported through local and national media outlets, even receiving an article in the Wall Street Journal.

As the Ikard Elementary campus grieved for their teacher, they also searched for ways to honor her memory. In May 2018, the campus hosted a book donation drive for its library.

At the same time, the WISD Education Foundation was exploring the possibility of supporting literacy for pre-kindergarten students. The two ideas merged and the Education Foundation approved a new program (Heather’s Books) that would provide a voucher ($10 this past school year) for the youngest students to purchase their own books at their school’s book fair held each fall and spring.

“In the first year of Heather’s Books, we were thrilled to learn that 175 students purchased a total 727 books,” foundation President Dave Cowley said. “We’re so grateful to our campus librarians who hosted a BOGO (buy one, get one) book fair this spring, allowing students to purchase twice as many books. Most importantly, the Education Foundation’s funding provided some children the opportunity to own their very first book.”

While there are many other enticing items at book fairs such as posters, toys, educational games, pencils, pens, and more, the vouchers only apply to the purchase of books in order to promote literacy. The books purchased belong to the students and are theirs to keep.

Weatherford Parks and Recreation director Shannon Goodman celebrates the grand opening of Marshall Park on the north side of town. The park has been renovated with a new splash pad, the third in the city's park system.

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