City School Receives $25,000 Grant from the Children’s Literacy Foundation


Ashley Levine teaches a lesson to second graders in the City School library. Photo credit: Mitch Craib

Madison Gagner, Contributor

Within the walls of Saint Albans City School, some bookshelves are left bare after the nearly three-year pandemic. But thanks to City School librarian Ashley Levine, bookshelves will be filled once more.  

In an interview with The Mercury, Levine said she has worked at SACS for eight years as a classroom teacher, literacy coach and now as the school’s librarian. Before working at SACS, Levine was employed for ten years as a classroom teacher at Milton Elementary School. 

Earlier this year, Levine said that she applied for one of CLiF’s Year of the Book grants, which are given to 12 schools throughout Vermont and New Hampshire. Each grant is worth about $25,000.

Levine said she learned about the grant during the pandemic from a teaching colleague in Milton. She also said that the application process was “a lot of work.”  

“I had to gather evidence from other people around the district,” Levine said. “I had to get letters of support from the public library, from the literacy coach [and] from the principal.”

When she found out that SACS was a finalist for the grant, she said she “got really excited.”

“[I] put all my efforts into the final statement, and I think that’s probably what got us the grant.”

Levine said that although she has applied for smaller grants in the past, the Year of the Book grant is the first of its size that she had gone for.  

Levine also said that opening the acceptance letter for the grant was a very emotional experience. 

“I cried,” Levine recalled, adding that she was with her son at the doctor’s office. “I was in the waiting room and I was checking my email…and I just started sobbing.”

Levine said that she is excited about a new partnership with the St. Albans Free Library, as some of the grant funds will also go towards adding to their book collection.  

The grant not only provides books for the school’s collection but also provides literacy programming and visits from children’s authors throughout the year. In addition, each student will go home with 10 new children’s books. Levine hopes that this will help to “instill a love of reading” in her students.

The awarded grant still needs to be reviewed by the school board in the upcoming week, but Levine said she is hopeful that it will be approved.  

“I think this is going to be pretty life-changing for some of our kids,” Levine said, “It’s going to be epic.”