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Curious George Celebrates $5K Grant

Curious George stole the spotlight Tuesday as a literacy grant was announced at New Lebanon School in Byram. The Greenwich Alliance for Education received $5,000 from the Verizon Foundation to support its early childhood literacy program and famed Storymobile.

Children from Jody Hiatt's preschool class joined the celebration in anticipation of receiving new "Curious George" books. State and town officials also gathered to support the alliance and hand out new books, tote bags and water bottles to the children.

"The GEA is thrilled to get this support from the Verizon Foundation," Executive Director Julie Faryniarz said. "Our organization's goal is to ensure that students from every school and economic background in Greenwich have access to the same possibilities for educational success."

Launched in 2006, the alliance is an independent nonprofit education foundation that provides educational opportunities for Greenwich Public School students. The Storymobile is a renovated RV designed to look like a page in a storybook. It reaches more than 275 students each month during the school year. Teachers use the Storymobile as a learning tool outside the classroom.

"The Storymobile serves a diverse preschool population and provides the kind of quality early literacy experience that many or our children need to better prepare themselves for kindergarten and beyond," Faryniarz said.

The Verizon Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications. It supports and promotes literacy from kindergarten to 12th grade with its website, Thinkfinity.org .

Catherine Gasteyer, Verizon's director for external affairs, praised the Storymobile as a great way to help with reading and learning.

First Selectman Peter Tesei, Superintendent Sidney A. Freund, state Rep. Livvy Floren and state Sen. L. Scott Frantz attended the event.

"It really is so important for our children to learn to read," Freund said. "We set that foundation in the earliest years, and we want our children to love to read and own books."

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