ESD’s Book Bus continues a lifelong educator’s legacy

December 7, 2022

ESD’s Book Bus continues a lifelong educator’s legacy

West Shore School News is a presentation of West Shore Educational Service District in partnership with Mason County Press and Oceana County Press. 

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

AMBER TOWNSHIP —Jacquie Gerould spent 40 years as a teacher at Reed City’s Norman Elementary School, retiring in 2010. During that time she developed a life long passion for ensuring every student fell in love with reading. After her retirement, she and her husband, Lynn, moved to Ludington where she became active in a variety of organizations including PoWer! Book Bags, which collected books for area children. 

On Nov. 29, 2021, Jacquie died at the age of 74. Her legacy, however, lives on in a collection of books that were donated to the West Shore Educational Service District’s inspiREading Book Bus, a service of the ESD that allows children to come on board the bus and receive a free book, a concept similar to the old library bookmobiles, except the kids get to keep the books. 

Betsy Dotson, daughter of Jacquie, is a literacy coach at the ESD, who, along with her family, came up with the idea to donate her mother’s collection. “My family decided there was no better way to honor my mom’s love of literacy than to donate her entire collection to the inspiREading book bus,” Dotson said. “I’m proud of this book bus not only because of the books and resources it provides to our families in Lake, Mason, and Oceana counties but also because it made my mom’s passion for getting books into the hands of all children a reality.”

The bright white bus, with splashes of rainbow colors on its side, is a retired ESD bus that was refitted to become the book bus. The bus also includes some local educational history to it. The shelves came from Ludington Area Schools former Foster Elementary, which, up until it closed in 2021, was the area’s oldest operating school building. Its last principal was also Betsy Dotson’s husband, Brian Dotson.

The inspiREading program is an early literacy initiative aimed at helping to provide young readers and their parents/guardians with some fun and engaging tools to help them become more proficient in reading. InspiREading focuses on providing resources that increase literacy engagement and proficiency outcomes for all. It includes strategy cards that highlight five literacy goals for parents, caregivers, community organizations, schools, and children to utilize to improve literacy.

“While we recognize that there are a multitude of literacy skills and knowledge required to become successful readers, we highlight specific strategies for motivation and engagement, phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension,” Dotson said. 

ESD Literacy Specialist Jaynie Manier said the bus serves children from birth to fifth grade. It is scheduled for a variety of community events throughout the educational service district in Mason, Oceana, and Lake counties. 

“The book bus has been a great addition to our mission of inspiring and teaching early literacy,” said Dr. Jason Jeffrey, superintendent of the West Shore ESD. “We are always searching for new and innovative ways to encourage children to read.” 

Its next appearance will be at Walkerville Community Schools Family Night on Monday, Dec. 12 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 

Donations of new and slightly used books may be made to the Book Bus directly at the ESD’s Main Office and Conference Center, 2130 West US-10, Amber Township (Ludington) during normal business hours. 

The Ludington Writers Group is also currently collecting books for the bus from now until January 7, 2023. Books can be dropped off at Book Mark in Ludington, 201 S. Rath Ave. Books should be new or gently used. 

On January 7, a representative from the inspiREading team will be at Book Mark from 10 a.m. to noon to answer questions and thank donors. Donors who bring in a book on January 7 will receive a Book Mark beverage coupon courtesy of Book Mark.

To learn more about inspiREading, click here. 

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