Before I discuss the challenge I need to tell you why this is so important to our school. Our school has a school plan called a PATH, which I will write about in another posts guides everything we do here at Warren Elementary School. Our PATH says that:
“We are embracing balanced literacy as a school community with a common understanding of what it looks like (classrooms have full libraries, daily reading; infused in all subjects)”
This statement among the five other goals underlines all of our activities. The PATH protects us from all of the shiny objects that may attract our attention away from our goals and keeps us on track. As the above quote says we are embracing balanced literacy as a school and part of the goal includes the development of full classroom libraries. Before the challenge we had committed school funds to take some small steps towards this goal which we expected to take until 2018 to achieve. This challenge allowed us to accelerate our actions and to provide each classroom with a full library space in under three months.
What was the contest?
A national book seller Indigo books ran a the contest “Adopt a School “where schools could earn votes and compete with one another on a daily basis over a three week period. Each day Parents, neighbors and community members could cast one vote for your school. At the end of the contest the votes were vetted and a grand prize winner announced. The contest was free which is my favorite kind, and the prizes were large 10,000, 7,500 and 5,000 respectively.
How did we do it?
First I have a great friend
@RexFB who told me about the contest, I cannot thank him enough for that. Secondly I accessed our divisional email, parent email database and my social media network. This was the first time that I truly saw the power of Twitter. My tweets about our school an the contest were re-tweeted thousands of times, and many of out community members were doing the same thing. Accessing my and others social media networks was key in this challenge.
What did we get out of the Indigo Contest?
What you would expect me to say is Books and you would be right, but there is much more. Through the blogging, tweeting, emailing and discussing the contest with our community we built strong connections that reached far beyond our small town. This challenge shone a light on our school and community. Radio celebrities were talking about us and our cause, it was wonderful. Even better than just talking about our school in a positive way the community was talking about literacy and a love of books at our school which was truly heart warming. Besides the daily adoptions that people made there was also an option to buy a book for the school, and buy people did. We were given 542 books, and won the grand prize of $10,000 in books for our school library. The donated books were valued at $12 each so our final total winnings and donations came to $16,504 in books for our school. Part of the contest also encouraged administrators to write blogs regularly to engage and mobilize their communities, which I did. Being a blogger already I was excited to share this medium with our community, and received a great deal of positive feedback about what our message was saying to our followers (Adopters).
What does this mean for our school and its students?
Firstly we are very proud and our team at WES is truly dedicated to balanced literacy and now that we have won we have the tools to do the job in style! Being a small school in a rural setting is sometimes seen as a disadvantage but as one of my parents said “Country Schools have Heart”. This statement has stayed with me throughout our contest and afterward, we (Our School and Community) believe in one another and support one another and this contest built even more capacity for our school and community.
In the future, our school libraries will be full of books at students interest and reading levels. Our students will have access to virtually every book that they could dream of and we will have the tools to raise literacy levels to their highest potential in our school with the best books available. The future is looking pretty good here at Warren Elementary School.
Stay tuned for more about our school PATH and Balanced Literacy at Warren Elementary School