CRESTVIEW — Returning Riverside Elementary School students express amazement when they enter the former Media Center.
“It was so boring before. It’s much cooler,” Tony Boyer said. “I’m going to like coming in here.”
“When I came in, it was like, ‘This is really cool!’” Austin Zaal said.
“My eyes just fell out of my head,” Jamyah Shinholster said. “Really, this is hopping now.”
Laura King, the fourth-graders’ teacher, spearheaded the library's transformation into the vibrant Learning Commons — a timely project, Principal Tammy Matz said.
“Libraries need to catch up and be more collaborative,” Matz said. “The old library was beautiful, but it was more geared to older kids.”
“We wanted it to look more kid-friendly,” media specialist Patty Davis said. “We wanted it to be a place where the kids would want to come.”
King said that transforming the library to better serve young 21st-century users required recruiting collaborators.
“I baked goodies to draw them in,” she said.
First, they developed a guiding vision statement: “Maximize the Riverside Learning Commons to empower students to successfully transition into a globally competitive society.”
Then they addressed the room’s appearance.
If kids were going to be excited about learning, they needed something more dynamic than the original dull, yellowish walls to stimulate them, Davis said.
By June's end, teachers got to work.
“We had so many people here we ran out of rollers and paintbrushes,” King said. “It was a great team-builder for us.”
They chose vibrant colors, and designed rainbow supergraphics for the Learning Commons’ entrance. The rainbow theme continues around the room’s soffit, following the old “ROY G. BIV” memory aid, assuring red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet are in the right order.
It's eye catching, assistant principal Holly Tew said.
“You can pick out the Commons from way down the hall," she said.
The best part?“Not one professional painter entered this library,” Matz said. “It was entirely the teachers’ work. All I really did was coordinate the pizza.”
Students across the parking lot in Shoal River Middle School's CHOICE carpentry program made a sturdy presentation platform to furnish the Commons.
From the raised, round wooden “stage,” students can express themselves in a variety of ways, such as performing skits and public readings or making speeches.
A new Promethean table — essentially a giant computer tablet — is loaded with games, puzzles, and mind-teasers. With Internet access, it can link groups of students to the world.
“The kids can collaborate on problems and work together,” King said.
“I want one for my room!” Tony exclaimed as King demonstrated the table’s potential.
“Libraries need to catch up and be more collaborative,” Matz said.