With support through a President's Innovation Award from a Genesee Community College Foundation grant, the College is joining the three-county community reading project known as the "Tale of Three Counties" (TTC).
The community reading initiative was organized several years ago by libraries in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties, as well as with other interested sponsors, including Genesee Valley BOCES School Library and the Daily News. The goal of TTC is to encourage reading among area adults and teenagers and to develop interest and discussion groups for works of fiction that focus on rural family themes, local history, or other related topics and issues. With a very successful program the first year featuring, "Peace Like A River" by Leif Enger, this year's selected book is "In the Bleak Midwinter" by Julia Spencer-Fleming.
Realizing the TTC program would benefit students and faculty, as well as the College staff, Sue Chiddy, instructor of reading at Genesee Community College, decided to explore a newly established College grant program that is dedicated to providing funds for innovative activities and projects that promote community involvement. The President's Innovation Awards are funded by Genesee Community College Foundation for projects that stimulate student and community pride in the College, or help establish pilot programs or initiatives with the potential for positive, long-term impact on the College.
Chiddy and a few colleagues, including Tracy Paradis, a part-time reference librarian at the College, submitted a grant proposal for approximately $2,700 to cover this year's program. The budget includes purchasing approximately 250 copies of Spencer-Fleming's book, "In the Bleak Midwinter." These copies will be given for free to Genesee students who show a valid student ID and agree to participate in one of the discussion groups scheduled in late February and early March. Genesee faculty and staff can also purchase a book for $2. The supply of books is available on a first come first serve basis.
"We knew it would be great for students and faculty to be reading the same book and then share in group discussions and finally meet the author," Chiddy said. "And this initiative seemed to match the criteria of the new President's Innovation Awards program perfectly."
The President's Innovation Award will also supply a small stipend for promoting the program and monies allocated for author's visitation and presentation expenses.
Author Spencer-Fleming is scheduled for a full day of on-campus activities on March 10, 2005. She will help lead an 'art of writing' workshop in the morning; have lunch with a select group of students, faculty and staff; and give a formal presentation at 1:00 PM with a follow-up reception. All programs, with the exception of the luncheon, are open to the public.
In addition, the College is also coordinating five group discussions the prior week to the author's campus visit. The calendar of "In the Bleak Midwinter" group discussions is scheduled as follows:
Each group discussion will be led by a different Genesee Community College faculty or staff member, with the calendar specifically accommodating morning, afternoon and evening schedules. A series of eight community book discussions is also scheduled throughout the month of February at libraries in Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans counties, and Ms. Spencer-Fleming will participate in three other Meet the Author forums in Batavia, Medina and Perry.
Though still in development, a student contest mirroring a public competition with the Daily News, is another interesting component to Genesee Community College's involvement with TTC. Students interested writing an article about the book, the author, or a discussion group, and submitting their work to the College's student newspaper, The New Courier, will be eligible to participate in the luncheon with the author on March 10, 2005.
"We are very excited to be partnering with the TTC initiative," Chiddy said. "Learning is a lifelong process in which daily reading is an important factor. Encouraging and involving our students in recreational reading motivates them to read more frequently, and this has indisputable academic benefits."
For a special bookmark detailing all the information regarding the TTC program, including the Book Discussion and Meet the Author schedules, go to any public library or Genesee Community College library. Anyone interested in more information about Genesee's Tales of Three Counties program should leave a message for Sue Chiddy at 585-343-0055 extension 7933, or contact Tracy Paradis at 585-343-0055 extension 6419.