Brevard teachers toured local neighborhoods in ice cream truck to encourage summer reading

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – While most kids were spending the summer lounging or playing video games, two teachers in Indialantic were loading into an ice cream truck with no air conditioning.

Kimberly Donovan, a literacy coach, and Amanda McCaughin, a media specialist, were hoping to inspire those kids to read and fend off a phenomenon called the “summer slide.”

“The summer slide happens in all subject areas because many times the kids are just out of their routines,” said Donovan, explaining how many students lose some of their knowledge over the summer break. “It happens to our students over the summer if they’re at home. They’re not reading as much like they are when they’re in the classroom.”

On this first week of school, our Getting Results Award winners are devoted educators at Indialantic Elementary. They thought outside the box and went the extra mile (in an ice cream truck) for their students.

“To promote summer reading, every year we challenge our students to read,” Donovan said. “And then they’ll return to school the following year, having read 10 books or more.”

But this summer, the pair decided to check in with their kids and give them a little encouragement by way of a visit from Marie’s Sweet Treats ice cream truck.

“So we got about halfway through summer (and) we really felt like, ‘Oh, we want to remind our kids they need to be reading,’” Donovan said.

That’s when McCaughin came up with the idea of an ice cream truck visit.

“It was just something that we wanted to do, just to see the kiddos and to see their smiling faces. We wanted to invest in their reading, we’ve never done anything like this before,” McCaughin said.

Marie Darling was excited to help. Darling, also a former teacher herself, owns the Marie’s Sweet Treats truck.

“Marie is a part of our community and she does a lot of neat things in our community,” Donovan said. “She gives back and she’s also come by and given the teachers ice cream. So we really do like ice cream here.”

McCaughin and Donovan produced a short video to promote the event to the students and their families. Then, on July 16, they teamed up with Darling to do a neighborhood tour starting at the school.

“And we visited the entire community. And the kids came out and got ice cream,” Donovan said. “And we reminded them, ‘Don’t forget, we want to see all the books that you read over the summer.’”

The teachers handed out classic frozen treats, like ice cream sandwiches, Sno-Cones, Choco Tacos and Bomb Pops.

“We had the music going,” Donovan recalled. “As we moved on, you could just see the excitement of the kids seeing us coming.”

McCaughin added it was fun seeing the student they hadn’t met with in months.

“(We) talk to them about the books they’ve been reading. Just check in, see where they’ve been traveling,” she said. “Just know that we’re invested in their lives.”

The teachers said about 150 kids took part in the afternoon.

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” Donovan said. “And I love my school. I love the people I work with. And I love the kids.”

McCaughin said despite the heat, it was an awesome day.

“Our community is so cool coming together. Once they knew that this was happening, they all wanted to embrace it, knowing that it was something that supported our school, something that supported our readers, and everyone just kind of came together. It was really cool to watch. So awesome,” she said.

Donovan called it one of the highlights of her summer.

“It was really one of my best moments as a literacy coach to see the excitement on the kids faces to see us coming down the street,” she said.

Jordan Collins

Jordan is an experienced editor with years in the journalism and reporting industry. He loves talking with the community about the problems local residents face and state politics. You can find him in the gym almost every day or see him jogging.

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