Aspen Teacher Wins ‘Great Ideas’ Grant

Aspen Elementary School students participate in reading program. Courtesy photo


Los Alamos Public Schools first grade teacher, Sharon Allen, strongly believes in the success of the parent-school connection.  

To strengthen that bond, she applied for and was awarded a Great Ideas Grant from the LAPS Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that utilizes donations from supportive community members and businesses to strengthen public education in Los Alamos. 

Allen, of Aspen Elementary School purchased a full set of Gerald and Piggie hardbound books that the students take home each week in a special bag. 

While the book is at home, Allen’s students read the book three times to an adult or sibling and have them sign-off. 

When the students have completed the 16 book series, they receive special recognition from the class and have their name added to a class chart noting them as an “honorary founding member” of the Gerald and Piggie Book Club.

Reading and engaging young readers with high quality children’s literature is the first step to building a love of reading that will last a lifetime. Allen noted that this series of books is especially motivating for young children.  

After her students have completed reading one book three times, the student returns it to school and checks out another. The goal is to have every student read all 16 books by the end of the school year.  

Allen plans to compare pre and post Discovery Ed testing to show the growth made in reading. In addition, she will have both the students and their parents fill out a post book club survey that would address feelings developed about reading over the year. Certainly learning to read and learning to love reading are equally important. 

Recently Allen indicated that the kids are still very excited about the books. Four of her students have finished all of the books and three of those have asked to start over again because they love the books so much.  

Parents have also had quite positive comments indicating they think the stories are funny and even find they enjoy the humor.  

Here are a few comments from her students:

  • “I would read Gerald and Piggie books ALL DAY if Ms. Allen would let me!”  
  • “I LOVE Gerald and Piggie ‘cuz they are really helping me learn how to LOVE reading ‘cuz I know all the words in those books.”  
  • “It’s easy to read these books, and they make me laugh every time.”  
  • “Even my mom said she likes to hear me read Gerald and Piggie books!”

Donations to the LAPS Foundation are accepted year-round and can be mailed to 1900 Diamond Dr., Ste. 1, Los Alamos, NM 87544 or can be made on a secure website,

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