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Educator's legacy spreads joy of reading to New Hampton students

Outside New Hampton Community School last Thursday, Marie Kettenring and SAU 4's Curriculum Coordinator, Kim Sarfde, passed out packets of books, along with a table full of other elementary-level reading materials for children in grades K-5 throughout the district. Marie, her brother Stu and dad Ken donated all of the books from the collection of their mom and wife, Barbara Kettenring, who was a former reading specialist at SAU 4. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
May 21, 2020
NEW HAMPTON — Thanks to the family of Barbara Kettenring, the Newfound Regional School District hosted a free book fair of sorts for all students in grades K-5 to help booster their reading skills and interests as they remain sheltered at home.

Marie Kettenring, Barbara's daughter, said that among many other roles over the years, her mom was most known as a reading specialist for SAU 4 before she passed away in September of 2013. Because of her mother's love for reading, Marie said she and her brother were always provided with unlimited books to read while they were growing up. It wasn't until after their mom died, though, that they realized there were more children's books in the house than their family needed, including many duplicates.

"My dad Ken, my brother Stu and I heard that (Curriculum Specialist for SAU 4, Kim Sarfde) was looking to get books to kids in the district so I reached out to her to ask if she was interested in the books we had," said Marie.

Sarfde was indeed interested and began a campaign throughout the elementary schools to get the books into the homes of as many children as she could. An email she sent out brought back requests for book packets from more than 100 of the Newfound area's younger students.

Working with paraprofessionals from each of the four elementary schools, she and those volunteers then packaged up age appropriate books from the Kettenring collection for each of the requests.

"The paras have worked with most of the kids over the years, so they knew their interests and reading levels and helped us put all the books together for pick-up," said Sarfde.

Last Friday morning, parents pulled up to New Hampton Community School to receive their individualized packet of books from Barb Kettenring's vast collection.

Sarfde said that besides that free book give-a-way last week, the district also received a $2,000 grant through the Children's Literacy Foundation to promote reading.

"I worked with principals Dana Andrews of Bridgewater-Hebron Village School and Jay Lewis of the middle school to the write the grant," said Sarfde. "We were accepted and as a result the district was also able to mail new books to each child in grades K-5 in the district. We were really excited to have received that grant!"

Last Friday afternoon, Bristol Elementary School's fourth grade teacher Sarah Roberts was among the many parents picking up books for their children.

"Thank you! I have two children and I can't tell you how excited they are to get some new books to read," Roberts said.

Other moms, dads and guardians expressed their appreciation as well. Many even took a few minutes to look over a table manned by Marie Kettenring and Gordon-Nash Library's Children's Librarian Chris Hunneywell, where more free books from Barbara Kettenring's collection were available.

"We grew up with all of these books and it just makes me happy to see them going out now to kids who can read and appreciate them like my brother and I did," said Marie Kettenring.

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