South Elementary is the lucky recipient of a SHIP (Statewide Health Improvement Partnership) grant. The goal of this grant is to strengthen social-emotional and literacy skills in both families’ primary language and English, as well as build family connections, according to Laura Zender, Saint Peter Public Schools Elementary Counselor.


Every two weeks from May to August identified Spanish-speaking families will receive a social-emotional-themed children’s book written in Spanish with a note identifying key points to discuss with their children and extension activities (such as art, games, listening to the book online). All materials needed for the extension activities will also be given to the family. Families will receive a total of seven books.

“Literacy skills in a primary language correlate to literacy skills in English,” Zender said. “Promoting literacy skills within our Spanish-speaking families will not only influence positive family relationships and social-emotional skills; it will also influence these children’s learning experiences within our school system.  With additional literacy experiences in their primary language, students will likely develop literacy skills in the English language more quickly. By educating families on the value of literacy experiences and social-emotional skills for students, families will better understand and be able to better participate in conversations about their children’s experiences at school.

“This will support families’ comfort with practices such as parent-teacher conferences and discussions of ways to support their children at home. This project will also highlight the value of children’s primary language supporting their learning in schools. Both educators and families will be able to see the value of families’ primary language in the development of social skills and literacy skills. This will lead educators to better value the influence of families’ primary languages.”

“What a gift this grant has been! This is such a fantastic opportunity for our Spanish-speaking families to engage in literacy activities as a family. Our students are so excited to take books and materials home to share,” South Principal Doreen Oelke said.