When students and teachers started school on a recent Monday at Los Altos Elementary School in southern San Diego, they walked into surprise “Scholastic Classroom Makeovers.” Work on the classroom sets took place over the weekend, unbeknownst to teachers. A “reveal” took place in the teachers’ lounge before students were welcomed at the start of the school day.
Students squealed with delight at bins on their desks filled with the new books—and at the sight of Clifford the Big Red Dog. He was among the “dog-nitaries” on hand. Scholastic Education, the educational books and materials company, donated 7,000 books to Los Altos, or about 300 new books for every classroom. The intent is to share the instructional benefits and student excitement that classroom libraries engender, and promote the importance of independent reading.
The donation brought tears of joy to some teachers. “This is my first year teaching after three years off,” said third grade teacher Rachel Kennerson. “I had always taught upper grades. I had many, many upper grade books but very few lower grade books. I was struggling to get books. I had many people donate. But this is huge. Kids love new books to dig into…Thank you.”
Scholastic Education chose Los Altos because of its small school size and high priority on developing a strong reading culture, one that understands the importance of independent reading, and actually builds time into their daily schedule for “structured independent reading.” Their goal is to make the book selections within the classroom libraries as current, relevant and compelling as possible, across the entire school.
Principal Santos Gonzalez said the school focus is literacy. “We have really been pushing literacy here for the last 5, 6 years,” she said. “It’s ingrained in our culture…My teachers spend a lot of their own money on building their libraries. We have spent some of our money as a school as well on books…I am so grateful to Scholastic.”
Brian Chernow, vice president of sales at Scholastic Education, a division of educational books and materials publisher Scholastic, said the makeover was just as gratifying for the company’s employees. “We’ve outfited every classroom with over 300 new books,” Chernow said. “We’ve redecorated the poster boards in the hallways and helped create a rich culture of literacy throughout the school. We were very impressed with how the classrooms looked.”