Becoming the 2016 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year has truly changed my life. It was for this reason that I was incredibly happy to be able to share some of the bounty and love that was bestowed on me.
Earlier this year, I ran a contest to share the $2,500 in Scholastic funds with five lucky schools. There were hundreds of entries and five schools from around the country were each awarded $500. I checked in with each of the schools to see how they spent the funds and am happy to share those reflections here.
Thank you to School Library Journal and Scholastic for allowing me to share this bounty!
This past year, the book budget for my k-6 elementary school was cut in half. You can imagine how excited I was when I was selected to be the recipient of $500 worth of books from Scholastic, thanks to your generosity! I enlisted students to help with the selection, and they came up with a list that included books about Lego’s, graphic novels (we have one copy of “Sisters” and lots of demand, so I ordered two more copies!), books about robots and drones, and books from the series “Interesting Facts.” We got a late start ordering, and are expecting the books to arrive soon. I let my students know about your act of kindness and asked them to think of a way they could “Pay it Forward.” They decided to make bookmarks for seniors in a local senior center. And when the books do arrive, the students who helped make the selections will help me set up a “Book Tasting” event in the library, for classes to come down and “savor” the books! Our library is open this summer and these books will be a great “hook” to pull students in this summer!
Genessee Elementary School
Auburn, NY 13201
I wanted to thank you for your generous gift in sharing the $500 with Terrell Lane Middle School.
This school year, we had no budget for our non-fiction collection. We used the $500 Scholastic funds to help purchase materials in high-interest categories. New to our school this year was a STEM lab, so the media center purchased books about apps, 3D printing, and drones. These were so important as we had no books featuring these more current technologies. Also, our Career and Technical Education Coordinator creates a monthly display featuring career pathways which are presented in the media center. The media center tries to supplement with a selection of books about careers, but we have noticed significant gaps in our collection. This gift allowed us to purchase a set of books about dangerous jobs that are appealing to our students and provide more information for our career board. Lastly, I have several students who are big fans of WWE wrestling, so we bought a few biographies of wrestlers.
Students were thrilled to see the choices of new books we purchased and immediately checked out the majority of the titles. I know that these will be popular choices for several years. Within every book, TLMS also added a book-plate (designed by a student) thanking Todd Burleson for the gift.
Below you will find photos of our students enjoying the new books right after check out, our career pathway display with new books, and our School Resource Officer reading.
Thanks again Todd.
Terrell Lane Middle School
Louisburg, NC 27549
If you walked into our library today, your first impressions would all be positive. Look at that soaring two-story wall of windows! That beautiful sturdy furniture! Those comfortable couches! That clever presentation space! And those beautiful wooden display cases! Well, here’s the thing. Most of that beautiful furniture was purchased by a forward-thinking librarian who spent every penny allocated when the school opened 12 years ago. The rest was scavenged from other schools, garage sales and once, off the curb in my neighborhood. What’s harder to scavenge are books that our students want to read. Our shelves are full of books that have literally been read to pieces. My part-time aide spends half of her work week repairing, taping, gluing and praying that we can get our books through one more check-out.
Our school, like many in California and around the country, faces tough budget choices each year. Our hard-working PTO funds the library, along with many other school programs. With 1960 students, a $1,000 library budget doesn’t go far and is usually spent by October. Todd’s donation meant an infusion of new books in April! In fact, we came back from spring break to find those Scholastic cartons piled on our desk. We madly cataloged and covered the books that day, and filled a display bookcase with them. The photos attached show the display at the end of that day. The day after that? Completely empty shelves. Most of the books have already been returned and checked out again, many by friends of the first reader who made an enthusiastic recommendation. My two 8th grade aides each read five of the books, so they have been most enthusiastic at promoting them, too.
We are so thankful for Todd’s generosity. We were able to purchase replacements of old favorites (I’m looking at you, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,) and some new to us series like The Book of Tormod trilogy, which two boys tore through in a week! As the end of the school year approaches, our circulation hovers at just over 22,000 check-outs. That bump in April and May? That’s our new Scholastic books, circulating through the hands of many happy readers! Thank you, Todd!
San Elijo Middle School
1600 Schoolhouse Way
San Marcos, CA 92078
Warner Enhanced Elementary School is located across the Cumberland River and just a few blocks from downtown Nashville. But the population of Warner School could not be more different from the business folk of downtown, the heart of the business district. At Warner, 91% of the students live at or below the federal poverty level. Many depend on the free meals provided by the school as their reliable source of food.
Warner was delighted to be one of the recipients of the $500 Scholastic Book Awards from 2016 SLJ School Librarian of the Year Todd Burleson. The kindergarten teachers at Warner are using the funds to update their classroom libraries so that when the students return in the fall there will be new books for everyone to enjoy!
Thank-you again to Todd Burleson, School Library Journal, and Scholastic!
At Lift For Life Academy, we were inspired by Todd Burleson’s generosity to “pay it forward” with our Scholastic dollars. One way we did this was to allow 25 middle school students who had lost their library books and could not afford the replacement cost to have their fees waived. At a high poverty school like ours, this assistance is invaluable. We were able to add new books to our collection to replace the ones that were lost.
We also used our Scholastic dollars to help younger students with summer reading materials. In our Teen Library Council (TLC) Service Learning class, we have been working on community service projects all semester in conjunction with the United Way Serviceworks program. Our TLC students learned about the summer learning gap that occurs when students do not have access to books and about the lack of diversity in children’s literature. To combat these problems, we held a book drive, and the students wrote their own children’s books with African-American protagonists. We used the website StoryJumper to create & print our stories. We then partnered with Ms. Alison Fick’s third-grade class at Northside Community School, sharing the stories we had written with them and bringing them books to take home for summer reading, including 17 brand new books purchased with our Scholastic dollars.