Dr. Melanie Roberts, Director of Education and Ms. Dora Kunz, Program Manager of Education, stand with a selection of books to be donated.

Fort Myers, FL (February 5, 2009) – Southwest Florida College’s faculty, staff and students are helping the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida make sure that children have access to high-quality books in their homes.

Students of the Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education programs at Southwest Florida College, along with faculty and staff, have agreed to begin corresponding with a child in order to improve the child’s literacy skills. For each letter written to the child, students and staff of SWFC will include a book that pertains to the child’s interests.

Since the children range from 3 to 4 years of age, classroom teachers from Early Learning Coalition facilities will gather and distribute letters and books to the parents.

“Children are like little sponges and this is a great tool for parents to read to their child at home,” said Dr. Melanie Roberts, Director of Education at Southwest Florida College.

Dr. Roberts explained how the initiative ties in closely to the curriculum of the Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education programs. The curriculum of these programs requires the student to select appropriate reading materials for various reading levels. Since the children within the Early Learning Coalition facilities are at a lower level of reading, students of SWFC are looking for books that are of high interest with colors, pictures and that use monosyllable sight words such as dog or cat.

In a letter to SWFC, the CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida, Dr. Kathleen H. Reynolds, wrote that “fostering interest in books can have great positive impact on developing skills in reading and writing.”

The Early Learning Coalition knows “children who come to school ready to achieve have had exposure to lots and lots of conversation and books long before arriving in kindergarten. Unfortunately, many youngsters suffer from limited vocabularies and limited knowledge of how books work, simply due to lack of exposure.”

So far, 28 students, faculty and staff from SWFC are participating in this program. Dr. Roberts is hoping to reach her goal of 50, which would mean supplying the Early Learning Coalition with 150 books in total. She doesn’t think her goal will be hard to reach.

“If we can get 150 books out, it’s a good start, but we would like to do more,” said Dr. Roberts. “It’s amazing how these children don’t have things we take for granted. We are glad to help them.”

Southwest Florida College is an accredited private institution centrally located in Fort Myers, Tampa, Port Charlotte and also includes the Institute of Interior Design located within the Miromar Design Center in Estero. Its mission is to provide an education to men and women thereby enabling them to pursue successful careers and lead enriched lives. For more information, call toll free (888) 526-7973 or visit

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