December 06, 2012 12:00AM
Some Pittsburg State University students are working to fill the library shelves at the SEK Learning Center, a school that helps southeast Kansas students with behavioral problems.
This fall, student members of Future Educators of America (FEA) and Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society in education, began soliciting donations of books from individuals and groups for the SEK Learning Center’s small library.
Nate Morris, a graduate student in education and president of Kappa Delta Pi, said the idea for the project began with a suggestion from Julie Samuels, associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Leadership, who was aware of the Learning Center’s great need for library resources.
“When I walked through the building earlier this fall and did not see a ‘real’ library, my wheels began to spin,” Samuels said. “I talked with (teacher) Dawn Kerr and (principal) Nick Cheney about allowing our students to help and when they agreed, I passed on the idea to FEA and Kappa Delta Pi. The students were super excited.”
Assistant Professor Ann George said the PSU students’ excitement about the project showed their dedication to serving their community.
“It is wonderful to see members of the student education organizations at PSU committed to the library project,” George said. “It shows their desire to improve education and serve the community.”
Morris said the PSU students discovered that the Learning Center needed all types of books.
“They serve kids from K-12, so they need just about everything,” Morris said. “They particularly need books for elementary students.”
Operated by Interlocal 637, the SEK Learning Center was originally known as Cherokee Village and was located in a grocery store and a former church in Cherokee. In 2009, a storm damaged the building beyond repair. The Learning Center found a new home in December 2010 in a former industrial building on the west side of Girard. Principal Cheney said the Learning Center serves upwards of 100 students daily in its new home.
Dawn Kerr, who teaches first- and second-grade students at the learning center, said there was no room in the building for a library, so they set aside a corner of the cafeteria. The Girard Schools then donated some metal shelving to get the project moving. Getting the books to fill the shelves was more of a challenge, however.
With the PSU students now working to help get books for the library, teachers are beginning to dream of adding some of their own personal touches.
“I’d like to put down a small rug or carpet to make it a more comfortable and friendly place,” Kerr said.
Fellow teacher Melinda Adair agreed.
“It’s just one more thing that gives our students the same opportunity they would have if they were attending their home schools,” Adair said.
Krisanna Graham, a junior education major from Assaria, Kan., and FEA secretary, said most of the donations the student groups have received so far have come from friends and families, some from as far away as Olathe. Now, she said, the students want to step up their efforts. Teacher candidates plan to bring books to their holiday party and they are thinking of holding a book fair.
“We believe there are probably a lot of people in the area who would give new or gently used books if they knew of the need,” Graham said.
Graham and Morris said anyone interested in donating books can do so by calling 620-235-4183, 620-235-6090, 620-724-4508 or 620-724-8205.
“Inspiring a love of reading is one of the most important things teachers can do,” Samuels said. “I am thrilled our students, who will be teaching in their own classrooms soon, understand that.”