A Reading Sanctuary

Sallyanne Hendren, 5th grade teacher at Bow Lake Elementary

Sallyanne Hendren, 5th grade teacher at Bow Lake Elementary “cheesing it up for the camera”

Sallyanne Hendren submitted an Excel Grant last fall and her first line: “I would like to create a reading sanctuary where kids melt into cozy beanbag chairs and get lost in their beloved texts” wins the best opening line of the year award!

Who can’t picture exactly what she wanted to accomplish after reading that?

Here’s some of what she had to say in her final report:

In order to impart my love of reading and help these students become lifelong readers, I needed to set them up to enjoy the act of reading. Why I read at home, on planes, on the beach, at a coffee shop or book store is for comfort, escape, curiosity and research, connectivity. It is one thing to lecture them about this and another to give them the experience.

When the first shipment of beanbag chairs arrived on a dolly, my students squealed with delight. Without squashing their enthusiasm, we had to spend a few days reviewing how not to dive across the room for an opportunity to use one!

They are now associating reading with joy, relaxation, warmth, cooperation and friendship. Success!

Super Readers

Super Readers from Sallyanne’s 5th grade class at Bow Lake

As the months rolled along, I noticed my students were hungry for facts about themselves and the universe, loved fantasy and wanted to peek ever so slightly into the Teenage World.

Our classroom guidelines for becoming expert readers are as follows: Expert Readers are: excited to read; choose a variety of texts; are not distracted; make clear mental movies; read often.

Now our book clubs meet on the bean bag chairs, independent reading time is spent snuggled up in the chairs and students want to read.

Congratulations Sallyanne – we are so happy that the beanbags were a such a huge hit with the kids. We all know that reading is a good habit to get into and we’re glad the Foundation was able to help you show your kids just how much fun reading can be!


If you are a teacher in the Highline Schools District and are interested in our Excel Grant program, you can find more information on our website. Grant requests are accepted each fall, and we announce the program on our website and Facebook page.

Since 1999, the Highline Schools Foundation has been supporting innovation and excellence in Highline Public Schools. Our funding priorities focus on programs to improve academic achievement, supporting college and career readiness, grants to teachers for engaging classroom projects, the arts, athletics, and programs that keep students in school and productive. Highline is a district full of need and opportunity. The Highline Schools Foundation is the only non-profit organization dedicated to all schools in our district—our goal is to help as many students as possible be successful!

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