Community Impact Spotlight - Veronica Binkley

Interview with Veronica Binkley, Principal of Harding Elementary School
Q: How have you been personally connected to United Way?
     My personal relationship with United Way began when I started at Harding Elementary School in 2014. They supported us with [implementation of] Lexia and Reading Plus, which is a large component of our balanced literacy plan. UWSBC and Harding also provide a Kindergarten Success Institute, which smooths the transition into school for our little learners. UWSBC also offers Fun in the Sun, which is an engaging and enriching summer learning program hosted at Harding and four other South County locations. This year we also began year-round implementation of Lunch Bunch (typically offered during Fun in the Sun) where community members spend lunch recess with our students eating and enjoying outdoor activities.  
Q: How have the programs impacted you, your students, and their families?
     UWSBC has supported our school in diverse ways - really across the board from academics to social emotional development. Lexia is one of the cornerstones of our reading workshop hour and reaches each student exactly at their level! We feel very lucky to have UWSBC's support as we could not provide this resource on our own. The Kindergarten Success Institute helps kindergarteners ease in to their new school and allows our teachers to get a deeper understanding of individual needs. Both programs support our schoolwide goal of improving reading achievement.  
     Fun in the Sun supports our families in a familiar environment and brings high level education and enrichment to participants. Lunch Bunch connects our students to the community and supports our "College-Going Culture" by exposing our students to multiple career paths from people in the field! We are so grateful to work in a community with so many resources and UWSBC has been an incredible partner.
Q: What is one way that people can help schools like Harding thrive?
     I would love for people to spread the word that Harding is indeed thriving.  As an authorized International Baccalaureate World School, what we do here, academically, is research-based and absolutely the best practice in education. 
     We have an extraordinary staff of teachers; they are dedicated, passionate, and love our community which shows in our students' outcomes. Harding students are kind, thoughtful, deep thinkers and becoming voracious readers! With our reading workshops and incentive programs (thank you UWSBC and Chaucer's!) our students have a competitive drive to "out-read" each other.  
     We invite the community to see all of the changes we have made over the last 2 years! One of my favorite things to do is to give tours and share our students and programming with our community.  
Q: What programs/initiatives would you like United Way to develop in the future?
     A tutoring program and/or after-school enrichment classes in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) would be great! We have a great science lab and would love to begin transforming it into an engineering "Maker's Space"!