Heights Couple Distributes Dictionaries to Third-Graders

Article written by Todd Martin, Harker Heights Herald

A Harker Heights couple is laboring to help educators inspire students to love learning. Anthony and Sarah Triola made their eighth stop to a Killeen ISD elementary school Monday to distribute copies of the paperback “A Student’s Dictionary” to third-graders.They are continuing to seek sponsors to get the books in the hands of every KISD third-grader across the school district’s 32 elementary schools.

At Skipcha Elementary, Anthony Triola led the students in a series of challenges with the reference books.They looked up the word “car” and the word “melt” and read definitions.They found a section on presidents and found Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and George Washington. They also found a section on states and discovered California joined the union on September 9, 1850.

Sarah Triola, a high school teacher for 15 years and her husband, retired from 25 years service in the military are on a mission of education and service because they believe in learning. “Seeing students in high school history who loved learning as a process were so much more successful,” Sarah Triola said, explaining the value of learning to love the discovery of knowledge.

Growing up, Triola said she pored over her family’s set of encyclopedias, a form of discovery all but gone in the age of online research.“To give books as a source of information is such a joy,” she said, “especially since they get to take it home.”

Third-grade curriculum includes dictionary skills and educators have pointed out students are typically transitioning at that age from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”

Earlier this year at a distribution at Sugar Loaf Elementary School, campus instructional specialist Stephanie Ford said the new dictionaries were a special gift for students at a strategic time in their education. “In second grade they are still learning foundations of reading,” she said. “In third grade, we expect more. I like this because dictionary skills are part of the curriculum.”

Skipcha third-grade teacher Taryn Wall said her students frequently put words in alphabetical order and make use of a user guide in the school-provided dictionaries. “It’s great they can take home these dictionaries and practice,” she said. “These have great reference material that will help them throughout school. We are very grateful.”

Third-graders sat in the cafeteria as their teachers and the Triolas handed out the dictionaries. Students found pages with sign language symbols drawn out and began to form letters with their hands. They turned to the Table of Contents and looked up items Triola challenged them to find. “It’s interesting,” said third-grader Ava Munselle. “There are a lot of different languages in it and words you can find definitions for. This could help with reports on the presidents.” She said the dictionary would help she and her classmates prepare for spelling and vocabulary tests.

The 540-page dictionaries contain sections on flags around the world, the Periodic Table of Elements, multiplication tables, Roman numerals, the U.S. Constitution, the list of U.S. presidents, maps of the world, planets, the water cycle, sign language and more.

Through The Dictionary Project, the Triolas receive shipments of dictionaries as they manage to line up local sponsors to pay for the books.

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