7/17/13 Bus rolls by Eastlawn on a MAGIC MISSION

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Free books, free school supplies — and smiles aplenty
 Above, Douglas Ramos-Lopez, 7, excitedly picks out books with Special Education teacher Laura Norwind, left, and AIG teacher Donna Kimbro on Tuesday during a “Magic School Bus” stop at Eastbrooke Apartments in Burlington. Teachers and administrators from Eastlawn Elementary rode the bus and distributed books and school supplies to local children.

Photos by Scott Muthersbaugh / Times-News

Above, Douglas Ramos-Lopez, 7, excitedly picks out books with Special Education teacher Laura Norwind, left, and AIG teacher Donna Kimbro on Tuesday during a “Magic School Bus” stop at Eastbrooke Apartments in Burlington. Teachers and administrators from Eastlawn Elementary rode the bus and distributed books and school supplies to local children.

Bus rolls by Eastlawn on a MAGIC MISSION
By Steve Huffman The Times-News 7/17/13  
Reprinted with permission.

   The big white bus rolled into Beaumont Avenue Apartments on a sweltering summer afternoon, easing to a stop at the curb.

   The horn sounded and, within moments, there were children everywhere.

   Tuesday marked the third year “The Magic School Bus” has made its rounds through east Burlington, delivering educational supplies to hundreds of students enrolled at Eastlawn Elementary.

Christopher Landa-Perez, 5, tries to hang on to all of his free books. See more photos online at TheTimesNews.com  
Christopher Landa-Perez, 5, tries to hang on to all of his free books. See more photos online at TheTimesNews.com  

   “That’s the magic part of it,” said Dan McInnis, principal at Eastlawn, referring to the honking of the horn that announced their arrival.

   “It’s mostly a surprise, though we know the children look forward to us coming.”

   “The Magic School Bus” is a popular children’s book series and PBS TV show. Educators from Eastlawn adopted the name three years ago for their own summer caravan. About 70 teachers and other staff members were involved in Tuesday’s endeavor.

   Most of them wore gold Tshirts emblazoned with a blue panther, Eastlawn’s new mascot, selected by a vote of the students. Remember, educators keep reminding their charges, you’re like a panther — always climbing, constantly striving to get better. The bus was filled with classroom supplies, books and information about the fi rst day of school, which at Eastlawn is this coming Monday. The bus stopped at Eastbrooke Apartments on Morningside Drive and the neighborhood of Lindale and Martin streets before setting sail for Beaumont Apartments.

   About 400 students took advantage of the offerings, the vast majority thanking those in charge as they collected notebooks and more before turning their attention to boxes of reading books that were also free for the taking.

   Supplies that were distributed came largely through donations and partnerships with St. Marks Church, 5th Street Books of Mebane, Barnes & Noble and the Alamance Partnership for Children.

   McInnis said the idea behind the bus and its travels is to let Eastlawn’s students know they’re some pretty special young people.

   “We believe in our kids and we love our kids,” he said. “This shows the community is invested in what we hope to do, which is build student leaders.”

   Parents were equally appreciative.

   “It helps the whole community,” said Tiffany Dunn, who watched her 6-year-old daughter, Myisha McRae, select an armful of supplies.

   “Lots of people here, they’re just looking for a way to make it from one month to the next. This is a big assist.”

   Denise Grissom is a kindergarten teacher at Eastlawn and one of the educators who assisted in Tuesday’s distribution. She said if there was a favorite among the offerings, she didn’t see it.

   “From what I can tell, everything’s pretty equal,” Grissom said of supplies students were collecting for transport back to their residences.

   Angela Rios, Eastlawn’s translator and interpreter, said the event allows educators to connect with their students, to let them know they care.

   “It helps us teach the whole child,” Rios said, “by seeing where they live and how they live.”