Monday, March 6, 2017

Quite an Honor for Me

                                                         Quite an Honor for Me

           On March 3, 2017, I went to Riverside Elem. in El Reno, OK. I planned to read my new book, Scanner, to the students in grades Pre-K through 4. I knew some of the students because I had been a teacher/librarian at the school for many years. My friend and illustrator, David Barrow, was with me. I noticed a few teachers in other grades, as well as a few friends I'd worked with over the years, listening as I read my new book. I was glad to see all of them.
          This is a school that didn't have much of a library when I first started teaching there many years ago. The books had color coded tape on them to distinguish the reading levels. There were no spine labels with the Dewey system on them. I soon discovered that teachers and parents had donated the books, and everyone had guessed at the reading levels. There was no card catalog.
         Many schools across the state as well as the nation had this type of "library". I taught fourth grade at the time, but started writing grants hoping to get some money for improving the library. I don't know how many grants I wrote, but I do remember a few. There were three grants (each for $10,000) that enabled us to buy a computer, a software system, and new books so that we could update our library. We now had a catalog for teachers and students to use, and had a check-out system in place.
         I wrote grants for books given to schools from the American Library Assn. (around $2,000 to $4,000). We were very fortunate to receive grants twice. I wrote many grants for the library when the Oklahoma Career grants existed.  We received many thousands of dollars in books, software, and videos on career topics. We were able to purchase many science and social items (library media) with grant money from Title funds and other grants that I wrote.
        The library also received a grant from the Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom program. Our library continued to improve as the grant money, books, and media increased.

        Each grant made the library a better place, and children began coming to the library more often. That's what we had hoped would happen.

        I tell you this to let you know that when I walked into the Riverside Library on Friday, I saw a beautiful library with many shelves housing many great looking books. It had new furniture and carpet. Mrs. Harmon, who was my assistant, is now in charge of the library, and she's done a marvelous job making the library so inviting to students and teachers.
         On Friday, just as I was to talk about my latest book, Scanner, I was presented with a plaque to go above the entrance to the library.  The plaque reads:

                               Welcome to the UNA BELLE TOWNSEND Honorary Library
           In Recognition of Her Lifelong Commitment to Children and Reading.

         It was an unexpected honor. My goal had been to try to make the Riverside library the best library in the area. I hope it continues to be the best.
        Children and reading will always go hand in hand. I hope that I made a difference whether I was in the classroom, in the library, or working with students who just needed a little more instruction on how to read.
         I want to thank the Riverside School Board, Superintendent Garner, and the faculty and staff for recognizing my efforts to make a difference in a child's life.
        They say it takes a village to raise a child. I was just one in that village helping to teach children how to read, but I loved it.

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