For the second consecutive year, Janice Friedrich is spending her summer going door-to-door for a good cause: the Newspapers in Education program.
As a teacher at Jefferson Elementary School in Cape Girardeau, Friedrich knows how important it is to expose students to newspapers at an early age.
The NIE program, a combined effort of local businesses and groups, the Southeast Missourian and the YELL Foundation, allows teachers in Cape Girardeau, Scott, Perry and Bollinger counties to do just that.
"NIE is such a worthwhile program. We actually teach using the newspaper," said Friedrich.
"Textbooks are very important, but they're not as up-to-date as newspapers. There are so many things you can do with a newspaper, " she continued.
The NIE program works by supplying copies of the Southeast Missourian to students in individual classrooms. Teachers use the newspapers as learning tools, and when they're finished, students take the papers home.
Help with reading skills
"Sometimes this is the only exposure children have to a newspaper. It's a valuable tool all the way around," Friedrich said. "If you hook readers young, they'll be lifelong readers."
Friedrich began soliciting classroom sponsorships in 2001 when the original fund-raising tradition -- YELL volunteers selling special editions of the newspaper on street corners once a year -- was discontinued. YELL stands for Youth, Education, Literacy, Learning. The foundation raises money for literacy programs, including the NIE project.
"The sponsorships were an overwhelming success. We did as well as we'd hoped, if not better," said Mark Kneer, circulation director at the Southeast Missourian, who explained the newspapers are provided to the program at half cost.
"But we're always looking for additional sponsors," He said. "It's a never ending battle."
Kneer said 2,629 newspapers were supplied to more than 70 teachers in 38 different schools every week last year. And that still wasn't enough.
"There were an additional 19 classrooms that requested newspapers, but we were unable to find sponsors for them," said Kneer.
So far this summer, Friedrich has about half the number of sponsors she needs for the coming school year.
"It's a slow process, but I'm optimistic," Friedrich said.
Friedrich said most people don't realize the many different ways a newspaper can be used as a learning tool.
"In my classroom, we use the papers for vocabulary, creative writing, current and world events," she said. "We do scavenger hunts with them and write rebuttals to Speak Out."
"It's something I believe in so much because it's something I use every day," Friedrich said.
Friedrich hopes to wrap up her sponsorship efforts the first of September. Sponsorships cost $275 and are tax deductible, thanks to the YELL Foundation. An added incentive is a free 3-by-10-inch advertisement in the Southeast Missourian thanking individual sponsors for their donations.
For more information, contact Friedrich at 335-3518.
335-6611, extension 128