With new furniture, new iPads, and 2,000 new books, the library at John M. Gregory Elementary School will serve as an academic utopia for the entire school community.
Unveiled on Wednesday, October 2, this renovation came about through the Target School Library Makeover Program – part of the corporation’s goal of contributing $1 billion to education by the end of 2015.
“We feel it is our responsibility to address the education challenges in America,” said Sarah Van Nevel of Target Public Relations. “Our hope is that by providing schools with upgraded libraries, we will ignite a love of reading among children and help put them on the right path toward graduation.”
Equally exciting is the Meals for Minds Food Pantry, which was also provided to Gregory as part of the library renovation. The pantry will be open to all Gregory parents and will allow them the opportunity to collect 22+ pounds of food staples and fresh produce per month for every child they have registered at the school.
“Statistics have shown that students who come to school hungry have a harder time focusing,” said Van Nevel. “By taking advantage of the Meals for Minds Food Pantry, parents can make sure that their children are well fed and are coming to school ready to learn.”
Wednesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony gave parents and staff their first look at both the library and food pantry. The event also included over 140 volunteers from the Heart of America Foundation – Target’s premiere partner in executing the 25 school library makeovers nationwide that will take place in 2013. Also on hand were many Gregory students, including the group of third-graders who were the first to learn about the project in March of this year.
“They were in second grade then,” said Gregory principal Donella Carter, “and we came to their classroom to announce that Gregory had been selected to receive a library makeover. They immediately jumped up and started clapping – they thought the library would be open for use by the next day.”
Though not quite that fast, the project took only a month to complete once renovations began. Volunteers worked quickly to paint, install new carpet, and add a media center complete with iPads, smart boards, and desktop computers. They also provided all new furniture, an efficient checkout system for the librarian, and 2,000 new books for use by students, parents and staff.
Gregory students will visit the library at least twice a week as part of their classes. And as part of the ribbon cutting ceremony, all 437 students received seven new books to create or expand their home libraries.
“Everyone is excited about the iPads, and of course they’re wonderful,” said Principal Carter. “But it’s important to physically put books in our students’ hands as well so that they can enjoy the magic of reading.”
With a section geared specifically toward parents, Carter hopes that the new library will be a useful resource for the entire school community.
“We hope our parents are here at least once a month to use both the library and the new food pantry,” she said. “Our goal will be to make them feel welcome as they take advantage of these great new additions to our school.”