Faces of Dryden: Grow your child’s world at the grocery store

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Retirement doesn’t mean slowing down. If you or one of your children had the blessing of having AnnMarie Streeter as a kindergarten teacher, you know her passion for children and literacy. It’s no surprise, now that she’s retired from Dryden Central Schools, she’s casting her net even wider to bring the wonder of words to children of the entire community.


Streeter joined the Family Reading Partnership (FRP) soon after she retired from her 20 plus years teaching at Dryden Elementary. She pointed out that she started teaching at DES the same year that Family Reading Partnership was formed. If they had started sooner, her career may have been considerably different.


You may know the FRP from their colorful banners hanging around Ithaca. With whimsical illustrations from children’s books, the banners proclaim, “Read to Me! Any Time! Any Place!” This is just one of the many initiatives of this vibrant, homegrown organization whose mission is “Creating a culture of literacy, one book, one child, and one family at a time.”


Streeter points out that for all of the wonderful work that FRP does, they are best known for their work in the Ithaca area. The partnership is now narrowing their focus and looking more at the rural districts in Tompkins County. With that focus comes a new program, “Shopping for Words,” a six-month pilot program geared toward families with children ages 0 to 5 at Clark’s Dryden Food Mart, in conjunction with the Southworth Library and the Groton Public Library.


The goal of “Shopping for Words” is to give parents ideas of things to talk about with their children. Families can find the colorful cards hanging on a poster inside the main entrance at Clark’s. The cards contain suggested discussion topics and activities for little ones while at the store, like matching colors from the family grocery cart and finding foods with certain letter sounds. Families are encouraged to bring the card to the library “to continue the fun.”


Streeter points out, “Not all Kids are coming to kindergarten with wide vocabulary and life experiences. This is why children’s books are wonderful for families. Parents are a child’s first teachers. The cuddle time that children’s books encourage is so important in learning about the world. It is a great place to develop a love of books. Talk about what is happening in the book; name the vehicles, the types of veggies. The more children know of the world, the more successful they’ll be in life.”


“Shop for Words” will continue the conversation outside the world of books and into the real world. Once it is established here in Dryden, the goal is to encourage talking to children more about the world around them and, as Streeter said, “Level the playing field for school success.” She hopes to broaden the program to other stores in town as well, to continue to give parents ideas of things to talk about with their children, knowing this will benefit children everywhere.


FRP excels in sharing these ideas. “We have a great digital media presence in technology. Our Facebook page links to great sources of information for parents to read, talk, play and sing with their children every day.”


As the program grows, Streeter will continue her work as Vice President at Family Reading Partnership and as their liaison to Dryden, continuing to spread their message in rural areas.

Dryden’s Homestead Heritage Fair Day
Thank you, Mary Hornbuckle, for sharing the following about an upcoming Dryden tradition:
The Southworth Homestead became the headquarters of the Dryden Town Historical Society in 2012. It had been the home of Dryden’s prominent Southworth family since 1836. Rebecca Southworth Simpson, a founding member of the society and the last member of the Southworth family to live in the house, left the property to the society in her will with the stipulation that it continued to be cherished and open to the community.


Since that time, we have endeavored to comply with Becky’s wishes and one of our favorite community events is the annual Homestead Heritage Fair Day. The event has been held in early fall since 2014 and includes activities, demonstrations, and exhibits for the enjoyment of the entire family. Common to each fair has been lively music, children’s toys and games, demonstrations of heritage skills and crafts, animal exhibits, horse and wagon rides, tasty food for sale, and tours of the Southworth House for $5.


This year’s Homestead Heritage Fair Day will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6. This date also commemorates Becky’s Birthday and the house will be decorated for the party.


Watch spinners turning sheep’s fleece into yarn or a blacksmith at his forge, take a ride in a horse-drawn wagon, watch demonstrations of sheep shearing, the ancient art of falconry, chair caning, cross-stitch, and basketry; see the magnificent birds of prey from Cornell’s Raptor Program, play with toys that your great-grandparents might have enjoyed and listen to the music of the Fall Creek Brass Band, the Ithaca Concert Band, and the Cortland Old Timers Band. You can also take a guided tour of the historic Southworth House (Tompkins County’s only historic home open to the public). All this and much more!
This year’s fair will coincide with the Ithaca Heritage “Authentically Rural Weekend,” held from Friday, Oct. 5 through Sunday, Oct. 7, and we are proud to be a part of what promises to be a memorable county-wide celebration of our combined local history.


Find out more at ithacaheritage.com/authentically-rural-weekend/.

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