“Books for Teachers” by Matthew Hestad

Matthew Hestad, a 3rd grade teacher at Van Asselt Elementary, chats with us today about  Friends of the Seattle Public Library’s teacher voucher program. Since 2009, the Friends have received generous funding from the Renee B. Fisher Foundation to provide classroom books in high-need (Title I) Seattle public schools. Through these grants, teachers receive $100 in vouchers to purchase books for their students. Our Spring Book Sale on April 6th and 7th will see 49 vouchers redeemed by teachers from 21 different schools!

Matthew Hestad in his classroom

This program puts books into the hands of students by one of the most important figures in a child’s lifetime of learning: the teacher. Here is Matthew’s story.

On the Friends’ Book Sales and “Books for Teachers”:

What drew me to the Friends’ voucher program was the need to get more books into the hands of my students. Every classroom has a leveled library in their classrooms where students can choose from a small variety of books at their own independent reading level and one of our most important reading genre’s is that of informational text or nonfiction. The Friends’ sales have given my students so many more choices of books that match their interest levels and this allows for a much broader range of excitement when reading informational text.

I am a teacher who loops between grade levels and have taught my students for the past three years beginning in first grade. Because of “Books for Teachers”, as my students’ reading abilities have increased, the Friends’ books have enabled my students to explore nonfiction and learn about topics that haven’t been able to read about previously.

When I leave the sale I always have received the maximum number of books that my voucher allows. I get there as early as possible and bring a very large suitcase on wheels. As I walk out the door my suitcase is filled with mostly nonfiction books from topics dear to my students hearts to books that I know as their reading abilities grow they will discover new and more developmentally enticing topics.

The classroom library, with books from the Friends’ book sales.

It’s amazing to be able to choose books for my students. We know each other well and as I browse titles or topics my students’ faces are constantly jumping into my head. “Oh, a book on tornadoes… Ben will hold this book and need it close to him for days. A book about Egypt… Susan will need this for her project. Wow, book #3 from the 39 Clues series is what Ra’Janae was looking for but our library was out of. Tarik will need to read the Gail Gibbons book entitled “Bats”.

I leave the book sale with 100 books and once back in the classroom, in front of my students, and causing great anticipation and excitement, will open the suitcase and begin pulling the many books out for students to see. My student’s excitement is explosive and contagious as they peruse titles and genres. The books immediately get sorted and labeled into different categories like reptiles, fish, weather, insects and of course a favorite… the human body. They go by topic, author, genre etc and are always available.

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Thank you, Matthew, for this personal insight into the program. Teachers throughout the Seattle area will be utilizing the Spring Book Sale on April 6th and 7th to restock the shelves of their library classrooms. Come join them in one of the city’s biggest used book sales of the year! All proceeds directly benefit the Seattle Public Library.

NORTH SEATTLE COMMUNITY COLLEGE, cafeteria

9600 College Way N., Seattle, WA 98103

Saturday, April 6th 9:00am-5:00pm

Sunday, April 7th 9:00am-4:00pm

 

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Books for Teachers

Since 2009 the Friends of The Seattle Public Library have been honored to receive annual grants from the Renee B. Fisher Foundation to provide classroom books for teachers in high-need (Title I) Seattle public schools.  Through these grants, teachers receive $100 in vouchers to purchase books for their students at the many Friends’ Book Sales. On September 8, teachers who had vouchers were given an opportunity to come and pick up at least 100 books each for their classrooms.  For the day, teachers picked up a total of $5,029 in books for their classrooms.

2010 Friends of SPL Wrap-up

Now that 2010 is over and a new year is beginning it is time to reflect on what we did in the last year and look forward to 2011.  2010 was a busy year for the Friends and the Library, here are just some of the highlights (and lowlights) of last year:

  • The year started out with tough city-wide budget cuts.  15 of our branch libraries were reduced in hours.
  • Seattle Public Library began working on a strategic plan.  Citizens and the Friends were asked for input.
  • The Friends’ Book Sales were a huge success.  We held Spring, Fall and Holiday Sales.  We are always impressed by the great turn out of donations, volunteers and of course, shoppers!
  • The Friends Blog partnered with the Seattle Public Library to get out the word about the Summer Reading Program.
  • The FriendShop had tons of great featured artist events all year long.
  • The Friends were seen at Farmer’s Markets all over the city to spread the word about what we do and to get people excited about the Seattle Public Library.
  • Once again, the Library closed for a week-long furlough leading up to Labor Day to help close the budget gap.
  • On October 1, the Friends held a reading flash mob in Westlake Center.  It was fun and attracted a lot of media attention!
  • The Friends created a Public Service Announcement.   Look for it on the Seattle Channel!
  • Building 30 at Magnuson Park where the Book Sales are held has been in danger of being closed.  The Friends have been trying to get the word out to save this great space for ourselves and other groups all over Seattle.
  • The Friends have partnered with the Fisher Foundation in Connecticut to get books into classrooms in need.
  • City Librarian Susan Hildreth was appointed Director of Museum and Library Services by the President!

Now that was a busy year!  What does 2011 have in store?  Probably a tight city budget again.  A search for a new City Librarian.  Definitely some Book Sales and great finds at the FriendShop.  Happy New Year!

The Friends pair with Connecticut foundation to provide books for local classrooms

The Friends of the Seattle Public Library have paired with the Renee B. Fisher Foundation’s Books for Teachers program.  The Fisher Foundation provides the Friends with a grant to provide qualifying teachers with vouchers for books that they can spend at our Book Sales.  Each teacher can spend up to $100 on books for their classrooms!  To qualify, teachers must work at a school where the majority of students are in need.

So far, the program has been a huge success.  The Friends  have provided more than 10,000 books free of charge to Seattle public school teachers at the 2010 Book Sales. We hope to be able to continue working with the Renee B. Fisher Foundation to fill many more local classrooms with books!  Here is some feedback from happy teachers:

“I left with over 119 books!!!  WOW!!!…I came back to school and added them to the classroom library.”

“My students LOVED the books!  They cheered when Joan dropped off the vouchers, and cheered again when I showed them the pile of books on Monday morning.  They have been enjoying browsing and reading in their reading classes, their silent reading times, or even in their spare time.  I love that I was able to get all kinds of genres and all reading levels for my very diverse group of learners!”

“Thank you and thank you to the Friends of the Seattle Public Library.  I went on Saturday and spent a bit over four hours searching for picture books for my Kindergarteners.  Those four hours were the best hours of my weekend since I knew deep inside I was giving up my personal time to make a huge difference.  It was fun to meet my colleagues there and talk to them across isles when a title of a book crossed my mind.  What I’m tying to say is that we not only got a chance to increase our personal classroom library, but a school wide one.”

And here are some quotes for happy students:

“I love Books!  Like you do!  Reading is fun!  I read a lot!  So I can get smarter!”

“My favorite book is the itsy bitsy spider and the snarly hissopus…All of them are great…so nice, cool, Fabilicious.”

Thanks to the Renee B. Fisher Foundation and to Friends Board Members Joan and Omar for this wonderful program.