Book buddies: Tonganoxie police, schools begin reading partnership
Tonganoxie Elementary School students have some new reading buddies in uniform.
The Tonganoxie Police Department recently coordinated with Tonganoxie USD 464 to facilitate police officers reading to children at Tonganoxie Elementary School. Like similar reading programs in the metro, this interaction centers around police and teachers encouraging children to read well and more often.
The district’s teachers and Tonganoxie Police hope to make this program fun in the process. Superintendent Loren Feldkamp, TES principal Chuck Mahon and many teachers welcomed officers into the elementary school starting last month.
Since that time, officers come to the school multiple times each week to read to a variety of different classrooms.
Police Chief Greg Lawson said the initiative is simple. Officers team up with elementary school teachers who set a basic reading curriculum for their students. Officers come at set times to read to the entire class, or are assigned to a student who reads to the officer.
Tonganoxie officers periodically bring in prizes such as police pencils or badge stickers for the students. The hope is students will enjoy the police interaction and won’t view reading as a chore.
“We are so thrilled to partner with the Tonganoxie Police Department,” Mahon said. “My staff recognizes the importance of this type of cooperation. The partnership between schools and law enforcement is essential in this day in age as safe schools are a national priority and getting the officers into read helps this process.
“Chief Lawson and I started talking about this in the fall and now it is a reality and we are excited to see it grow.”
Lawson said the program will continue through the end of the school year. The officers also will be reading with students throughout the summer, as there will be some opportunities at the school during summer break.
He expects it to then continue into the 2019-20 school year.
“The Tonganoxie Elementary School teachers have a really important job, and they have set up a great reading curriculum for our kids,” Lawson said. “We owe a lot of thanks to the teachers that have welcomed us into their classrooms. When children flourish at school, they tend to shy away from bad behaviors that can get them into trouble. Reading to the kids gives us a great opportunity to interact, and let them know that the police are their friends. We want the children to know the police are invested in seeing them succeed.”
Lawson praised Feldkamp and Mahon for their part in setting the program, as well as teachers who have gotten involved in the process.
“Folks should know they have a really dedicated school district looking after their children,” Lawson said.