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Passion Turns to Legacy at Lake Anne ES

The books of children's reading specialist Bobbi Vest are donated to Lake Anne Elementary's library to continue her legacy of teaching children to read.

Bobbi Vest spent much of her life dedicated to teaching future generations how to read. The Reston resident worked as a reading specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools, starting at and working many years at .

As part of her work and her passion, she amassed a huge collection of children's books that she used in her work, providing the children she met with books she had hand-picked to appeal to their interests and advance their level of reading.

When Vest died unexpectedly last year, her husband Bill decided Bobbi's collection of children's books needed to be put to good use. Wednesday morning, Bobbi's passion to help children learn to read culminated in the donation of about 1,000 books to

"She loved children and she loved reading," Bill Vest said as he helped unload boxes from a bus donated by the to transport the dozens of boxes to Lake Anne. 

Bill Vest said Bobbi collected, donated, loaned and gave away books to her students for more than 25 years. Since her retirement in 1998, she had been continuing her passion for reading by volunteering at women's shelters.

So after her death in June 2011, Bill Vest called Casey Hanes, a legislative aide to Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins. Hanes and Hudgins went right to work, reaching out to Fabio Zuluaga, assistant superintendent in charge of Cluster 8 schools, which includes Reston schools.

In very short order, Lake Anne was identified as a school that could put the books to good use for teachers and students, and arrangements were made for the donation. "Sometimes you just have to pull all these resources together," Hanes said.

Lake Anne Elementary is , and its new library opened only a few months ago. Lake Anne Principal Dr. Brendan Menuey said Bobbi Vest's book collection would be used to promote reading, especially among children who may not have many books in their homes.

He said the books would help support efforts to keep children reading over the summer, by providing more books for children to take home when the school year ends.

Michelle Swallow, Lake Anne librarian, said the books would first be used to expand classroom libraries, and some of the books may be used to expand or support the main library's collection. 

But most of the books, Swallow said, would be used in exactly the way Bobbi Vest would have hoped. They'll be given to children who need them, so they can fall in love with reading the way Bobbi Vest did.

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