Community supportive of youth literacy

Vashon’s support for high-quality education makes for an exciting future for students.

  • Wednesday, November 6, 2019 1:25pm
  • Opinion
Kathleen Lawrence

Kathleen Lawrence

The correlation between strong, specific library programs and student achievement is well documented. Students who attend schools with well-planned, well-trained, and strongly-valued library programs tend to earn higher standardized test scores, graduate at a higher rate and achieve mastery of academic standards.

Our faculty implements this same level of support in the Chautauqua Elementary School Library. Each week, 25 different classes of six different grade levels — Kindergarten through 5th grade — visit the CES library. With the addition of a certificated teacher-librarian at CES, the library has increased annual book check-out rates by 55%, created a year-long, grade-level scope and sequence that is based upon Common Core Standards, and introduced a grading system for each grade level.

Collaboration, volunteerism, hard work and elbow grease are responsible for the impressive changes and updates at CES. Students, staff, families and volunteers have shown an enormous amount of excitement and have contributed both ideas and effort in updating, upgrading and making the library a magical, welcoming and inspirational environment for our children.

Vashon Family and Community Engagement (FACE) and Partners In Education (PIE) have always been, and continue to be, strong advocates of the library. Some recent grants awarded by these organizations include updated lists of must-have collections, offering many books in several languages, and others that address gender issues and diversity, such as children’s books recommended by the NAACP. All collections — consisting of both picture and chapter books — are age-appropriate.

The King County Library System’s Student Accounts offer an endless stream of accurate databases, e-books and audiobooks. A recent grant from Vashon Artists In Schools, with the Vashon Center for the Arts and Caroline Rockey, provided a gorgeous learning experience and greatly improved the visual aesthetics of the library.

The Vashon Heritage Museum generously hosts an exhibit display case in the CES Library. Thanks to Vice President Sue Hardy’s hard work, students and visitors are gifted with fascinating exhibits from the Seattle Art Museum Educator’s Suitcases.

The school’s continuous collaboration with Vashon Youth and Family Services has developed exciting collections to promote empathy and self-acceptance for elementary school-age students.

Our island community, meanwhile, continues to offer unique enrichment opportunities. Local authors such as Jeannie Okimoto, Karen Cushman — who brought her John Newbery medal for students to hold — Tom Brenner, Tavi Black, Jesse Johnson and Susan Gibbons-Wolf, to name a few, have been more than generous sharing their time, talents and gifts with the students.

The possibilities of a creative life as a writer seem attainably close for those students who imagine living one, thanks to their relationships with these living authors.

Future endeavors will include a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) with district-provided science curriculum and information from the Vashon Nature Center, technology information, and support from Siri Hiltz, youth services consultant for the Washington State Library.

So, there is a lot going on.

Vashon has shown its support for youth literacy and high-quality education in the past. It is exciting to see what the future holds.

Volunteers, project ideas and books are always needed. A donation to PIE and FACE are also great ways to support the CES library. Please consider being a part of it.

This week, come visit the Secret Garden Book Fair at CES, continuing today, Nov. 7, through tomorrow. This event will benefit the CES Library and classroom libraries. There will also be gorgeous, high-quality children’s books for sale in the CES Library during fall conferences.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions or volunteer inquiries, and thank you again for your continued support.

— Kathleen Lawrence is a teacher-librarian at Chautauqua Elementary School.

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