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A donation from a local Rotary organization pays for the upgrades at the Newberg school

SUBMITTED PHOTO - A group of Joan Austin Elementary School students show off the new books and improve accomodations in the school's renovated book room.

Thanks to a $3,750 donation from Newberg's Early Bird Rotary organization, students at Joan Austin Elementary School have a new and improved book room. The room includes hundreds of books on varying subjects and is utilized by teachers of all grades.

Becky Gilmore, reading specialist at the school, said the administration was seeking help from Rotary to improve the room and they were blown away by the generosity of the donation. She added that the book room serves an important purpose for students at the school.

"The book room in our school is different than the school library," she explained. "While the library has single copies of books and they aren't labeled with reading levels, the book room is where teachers go to access sets of books (we use) with small groups or full classes.

"These are also leveled so you can grow them through the levels of difficulty. These books allow students to work independently in the classroom without frustration when they have free reading time. This book room supports all of our students and their teachers."

In total, the elementary school purchased 942 new books for the room along with brand new bins to hold them in. Before, the books were kept in cardboard bins and boxes that were beginning to fall apart.

According to Gilmore, this is the largest donation to the book room that the school has ever received. Most of the books were non-fiction and will be used by teachers for reading times, for lessons and for other purposes throughout the school year.

"We really focused on purchasing non-fiction books," she said. "We wanted students to have more access to building comprehension skills through non-fiction texts. They need that additional practice before middle and high school so they can be ready for the reading comprehension required of them at that age."

The upgrades should benefit students for years to come, Gilmore said, and will improve the learning experiences of students while making teachers' jobs easier.

"It's a great donation because the original book room was pulled together by donations from the other elementary schools or by teachers," Gilmore said. "Now, many years later, things were starting to fall apart and now that room has been bolstered by this donation. Having these resources in the hands of our students is very exciting and we're grateful to the Rotary for their donation to the book room."


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