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The Sparta Education Foundation (SEF) approved a grant for over 130 Playaway audio book devices to be used in Alpine and Helen Morgan Schools at their November board meeting. Playaway devices are about the size of a deck of cards and are preloaded with high-definition audio. There is no downloading to or from the device, and no internet connection is needed. This innovative grant totaled $5,566.

“The Playaway audio book devices provide additional opportunities to expose students to literature in a non-traditional way,” said SEF President Donna West. “Each student at Alpine and Helen Morgan will have access to the Playaway units, and teachers can also borrow these devices to support in-class lessons and promote literature.”

The grant application was presented by Taran Gallagher, Media Specialist at Alpine School for grades K-2, and Stephanie Bernardo, Media Specialist at Helen Morgan School for grades 4 and 5. They noted that students can engage with text in new formats across content areas, strengthen their reading skills, and help readers at all levels. The books cover a variety of genres including mystery, fantasy, historical fiction, literary non-fiction, biography, humor and poetry/novel in verse. Additionally, the Playaway devices promote the curriculum by fostering independent reading, a component of the Sparta school district’s ELA program.

The devices will encourage an appreciation for learning beyond school since they can be taken home with parental permission. The devices are designed to operate as one title, meaning zero distractions from messages, alerts and notifications which can put up when utilizing phones or other personal electronic devices.

Since 2006, the Sparta Education Foundation has funded over $1,075,000 in grants to all five of Sparta’s public schools. The Foundation is an all-volunteer, independent 501 (c) (3) NJ Non-Profit Corporation whose mission is to engage the entire community in philanthropic giving. Visit for more information about joining or volunteering.