Corr Elementary, a Title 1 School, recently unveiled a book vending machine for students to use.

There’s a direct correlation between students’ access to reading materials in their homes and their ability to read on their grade levels, especially when children are young. In Gibsonton, Corr Elementary Parent Teacher Association (PTA) President Laquandra Ruckinger could not be happier about the new incentive she and Principal Kristi-Lyn Ricketts just introduced: a book vending machine.

Covered for months by wrapping paper like a giant present in the school’s cafeteria, teachers and staff unveiled the newest addition to the Title I school, whose student population includes a large concentration of low-income students. The tight-knit group of teachers and families decided a book vending machine would be the perfect way to ensure kids could take more books home with them to keep.

The brightly lit book vending machine with favorite titles like Dog Man, Fly Guy and Harry Potter instantly drew enthusiasm.

Ruckinger boasted, “There’s only one other school in the area that has one. This is something that kids can get excited about. They will earn tokens through teachers and staff for behavior and good grades.”

Corr’s vision is a wonderful acronym, PRIDE: Positive Respectful Individuals Demonstrating Excellence. Teachers and staff will be on the lookout for kids who demonstrate these qualities so they can receive a tangible reward for their efforts.

Another hurdle for Corr, though, is that many parents are working two or even three jobs, so they do not always have the time or the means to be as involved at school as they want. The PTA is led by two teachers and three parents in total.

Ruckinger remains positive: “We try our best to help advocate for our students the best we can,” but support from the community is definitely something they welcome. “Our goal is to get covered courts, and we’ve been trying to do that for four and a half years. That’s a $100,000 project; we’ve only raised about $15,000 toward the courts.”

Covered courts would protect the elementary school students from the Florida sun and allow for more options outside. Individuals and businesses who are willing to donate toward this cause or the book vending machine can contact the school at 672-5345. Corr Elementary is located at 13020 Kings Lake Dr. in Gibsonton.