Like schools across the country, Lompoc Unified School District was thrown into distance learning with little warning and no real preparation. While it was far from ideal, we found that building community was the key to making the best of the situation.

Fortunately, we had a head start because of a community reading program, and there may even be a silver lining to look forward to when COVID-19 becomes a memory.

Schools play a critical role in building community together

Our reading initiative began last summer when our superintendent, Trevor McDonald, decided to pilot myON in an effort to put thousands of digital books and news articles into students’ hands.

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To get that effort off the ground, we had to put our district community to work. We handed out fliers, went on the radio to talk about the initiative, and even knocked on doors to let folks know about this resource for students.

And it was a huge success! Not only did our students collectively read for 131,000 minutes in June and July that summer, their parents were digging into myON to read as well.

About the Author:

Bree Valla is the deputy superintendent of human resources and educational services for Lompoc Unified School District. She can be reached at