Education

After flood, Miles Township Elementary library heads in new direction

Reading specialist Mary Conner-Righter films students on Monday for a mock television broadcast based on a book the students have read. The Miles Township Elementary School library had a flood last year causing major damage. The library has since been renovated, and the students are using it again.
Reading specialist Mary Conner-Righter films students on Monday for a mock television broadcast based on a book the students have read. The Miles Township Elementary School library had a flood last year causing major damage. The library has since been renovated, and the students are using it again. nmark@centredaily.com

April is national School Library Month, and Miles Township Elementary School has a reason to celebrate.

After a flood that damaged the library last year, the school kicked off this year with renovated space that took the library in a new direction.

A green screen was the backdrop in the far right corner of the library when you entered from its main door.

Third-grader AnneLea Barger and fourth-grade students Jessica Bressler and Emily Wolfe from Angela Homan’s class demonstrated a media project Thursday morning that they participated in earlier in the week.

After reading “The Marble Champ,” students were asked to get into characters from the book and interview each other.

Some students prepared questions, while other answered them using information from the book.

The interview process was then recorded on a tablet with a video app that transformed the green screen to say “Good Morning America.”

But they might not have been able to complete the project if they didn’t have the space — and tools — to do it.

District spokesman Nate Althouse said a frozen hot-water pipe burst in January 2015 causing water, steam and humidity to damage the library, its equipment and about 8,000 books.

But some Penns Valley Area School District administrators said it was a blessing in disguise.

It was a terrible situation to have the library destroyed, but the school now has its dream library. It promotes thought and engagement and inspirational education.

Kristen Albright, library media specialist and tech coach

“It was a terrible situation to have the library destroyed, but the school now has its dream library,” Kristen Albright said. “It promotes thought and engagement and inspirational education.”

The district’s library media specialist and technology coach said learning is in an era that puts more of an emphasis on other tools than just library books.

“Our focus is changing,” she said. “There is a tech benefit (for) the school that allows kids to be more engaged in the work they’re doing. It’s very hands -on and interactive, and lets them look at the idea of failure.”

In that instance, Albright said, it allows students to work until they find a successful solution.

The library, once filled with rows of book shelves, is now open in the front of the room with some desks and chairs; a work space in the back that Albright said promotes creativity; a cart full of tablets and laptops assigned to each student; and bookshelves around the perimeter.

“I call it a maker space library,” Albright said. “This really allows project-based learning. We’re away from the days of pencil and paper.”

Albright said she’s helped students create video games and work with computer coding, but the goal is also to create after-school extracurricular clubs for students to use the space when class is out.

“There are endless possibilities,” she said. “That’s the whole focus — to get kids to have fun while learning.”

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

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