OPI to Distribute 25,000 Free Books and Recognize Distinguished Schools

Wednesday, April 25, 2012
By Allyson Hagen

OPI to Distribute 25,000 Free Books and Recognize Distinguished Schools

MISSOULA, MT - Montana’s Office of Public Instruction (OPI) will recognize two Montana schools at their annual Title I (one) Conference for their achievements in closing the achievement gap and high academic achievement.  Additionally, the OPI, in partnership with Feed the Children and First Book, will be giving away 25,000 books donated by Disney Publishing Worldwide to the nearly 300 teachers who attend the conference.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau said, "We are thrilled to be able to partner with First Book and Disney to get 25,000 books into the hands of Montana children. Instilling the love of reading in our students is critical for student success and a bright future."

A truckload of books will be delivered to the conference for teachers to bring home with them. Disney has provided 12 different books appropriate for K-3, 3-6 and high school readers. Each teacher will be able to choose 50-60 books to be used in the classroom, as prizes, or to give away to the families of their students. The Montana Food Bank Network is providing volunteer support to the OPI to distribute the books at the conference.

“We’re excited to help Montana teachers get the resources their kids need to succeed,” said Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book. “No one understands better than teachers how important it is for kids from low-income families to have new books that they are excited to read.”

Title I (one) funds are used to provide additional academic support and learning opportunities to help economically disadvantaged children master challenging curricula and meet state standards in core academic subjects. Schools receiving distinguished school awards met three required qualifications including: a poverty rate of at least 35%, reaching high academic achievement for at least two years and reducing the achievement gap between student groups.

"I am so proud to present these awards to Montana schools that are doing amazing work in setting high expectations for every student. These schools are a great representation of the high-quality schools we have all across our state," said Superintendent Juneau.

Closing the Achievement Gap: DeSmet 7-8, Missoula

DeSmet K-8 is home to 130 students, 36 of which are in grades 7-8. About 74% of students receive free or reduced lunch. Principal Shelley Andres credits small class size, a core group of 10 volunteers who work with the students daily, dedicated staff, seamless transitions between grade levels and a positive and open school culture with DeSmet School's success.

High Academic Achievement: St. Regis Elementary, St. Regis

St. Regis School serves approximately 170 students K-12. With a student to teacher ratio of 10:1, all students are ensured individual attention depending on their specific needs. Principal Tammy Demien pointed to the school's implementation of the Montana Behavior Initiative and Response to Intervention programs as well as data-driven decision-making as key to improving school climate and student achievement. Approximately 83% of St. Regis students receive free or reduced lunch.

 WHAT:  Title I Conference and First Book donation giveaway

 WHERE: Holiday Inn Downtown at the Park, Missoula, MT

 WHEN:   Wednesday, April 25, 1:00 pm – 4 pm

OPI staff will be distributing books to teachers throughout the day on Wednesday.


First Book is a nonprofit that provides brand new, free and low-cost books to programs and schools that serve children in need. Since 1992, First Book has distributed more than 90 million books to schools and community programs around the country that work directly with children from low-income families.

Contact for First Book: Brian Minter, Communications Director, 202-639-0115

Feed The Children is an international, nonprofit relief organization that delivers food, medicine, clothing and other necessities to individuals, children and families who lack these essentials due to famine, war, poverty or natural disasters. In FY 2010, Feed The Children distributed more than 133 million pounds of food and other essentials to children and their families in all 50 states and internationally.


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