TCAT helps Betsy Book Bus become road ready

Published 5:24 pm Thursday, May 31, 2018

Don’t expect a summer slump for school-aged children when it comes to reading.

Elizabethton City Schools is one of three school systems in Northeast Tennessee that are now associated with Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation to offer reading incentives for children in their respective communities.

In conjunction with GBBF and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, ECS is offering the Betsy Book Bus program this summer, and for the foreseeable future, to help improve literacy in the city.

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The school system has reaped the rewards of reading initiatives offered by the state. In 2017, the system was selected to receive grant funding for a “Read to be Ready” camp for elementary children that showed signs of having a summer drop off when it comes to reading.

Bekah Price, public relations coordinator with ECS, stated the system is looking to level the playing field for all students with these programs and help work toward the state’s Read to be Ready literacy goal of 75 percent of third grade students being proficient in reading by 2025.

GBBF was able to provide partial funding to help launch the bus thanks to a grant offered by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). The school system was able to decommission a bus, which is now in the process of getting the interior outfitted for usage.

Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) – Elizabethton students are handling the work of getting the bus ready for action.

TCAT is just one of the partners the school system wants to thank, Price said. An outpouring of support allowed the project to become a reality due to the amount of independent donations that were received from the public.

Along with GBBF, ARC and TCAT, the system thanked Academy Sports & Outdoors, Northeast Community Credit Union, the Niswonger Foundation, Carter County Bank and the rest of the sponsors for making the project happen. The estimated cost to outfit the bus was over $17,000.

Carla Whiles, from Harold McCormick, will serve as the director for the project while ECS teachers Brandie Maness and Tammy Markland are assisting with the project.

The program is anticipated to start in June and last throughout the summer in the community. While the schedule is still tentative, the bus is expected to be on the road Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays each week and stop at different locations within the city, including East Side, South Hills Housing, ECS Central Office, the Boys & Girls Club, Harold McCormick Elementary and a host of other sites. At each location, children will be able to receive a book as a way to help promote reading proficiency through the summer in a fun atmosphere.

To learn more about the project, visit or Elizabethton City Schools’ social media accounts.