That’s Creative! Schools Encourage Love of Reading, Learning Despite Social Distancing

Many great ideas are coming to life all over the Cobb County School District. Schools and teachers are finding creative ways to use the internet and video-conferencing technologies to connect with their students while schools remain closed due to COVID-19.

While most students are doing their classwork and connecting with their teachers online, some have difficulty accessing the internet or prefer to do their lessons with pencil and paper. Compounding the problem is the fact that more than 1000 students in the District do not have access to the electronic devices required for digital learning.

Despite the challenge, Cobb schools are coming up with ingenious ways to provide daily lessons and activities for students that don’t depend on the internet. For example, Hollydale Elementary School in Marietta has come up with a dual solution to serve their students. They are installing a lending library and lesson boxes outside the school.

“We are putting our Reading Rainbow Nook outside of our gate,” said Hollydale Principal Jennifer Ridgway, “and filling it with books that can be taken and returned.”

Acworth contractor Tony Smith agreed to build and install the library, which will be a permanent addition outside of Hollydale.

“I wanted to contribute however I could,” said Mr. Smith. “Working with my hands and doing the install seemed the best way for me to lend a hand.”

Hollydale Assistant Principal Leila Barber praised him for his support of the school.

 “Tony is a friend and a craftsman who has developed and built many woodworks over the years. It was very generous of him to take on this project,” the Hollydale assistant principal said. “We look forward to sharing this with our community soon. Our school loves to READ and this will be a great opportunity for students to access new books while we are away from school.”

Additionally, the schools will be posting weather-proof “realtor” boxes next to the Reading Nook that contains paper copies of grade-level specific learning activities.

“Families can visit these boxes for updates to distance learning in lieu of digital lesson plans,” Principal Ridgway added. “Many of our families do not have access to the internet or devices to use for learning. This solution should help all our families continue to support student learning.”

A similar solution is being utilized at Eastvalley Elementary School. Eastvalley’s bookkeeper, Sharon Keilhauer, decided to set up what she called the “Bookkeeper’s Lending Library” in the breezeway area of the school.

“Our family has a lot of books that I think could help others,” she explained. “I have five children, and one of my daughters has special needs. When she was young, we lived in a country where no special education coursework was offered, and I had to create my own home-school curriculum for her. And now with everything that’s happening, I hope this lending library can reach and help a few families.”

The Bookkeeper’s Lending Library contains all sorts of books and magazines—including an illustrated biography series—donated by the Keilhauer family. Books can be borrowed and returned as needed, and donations are highly encouraged.

“We included books that my kids enjoyed reading,” Ms. Keilhauer said. “After all, books do no one any good unless they’re being read!”

For Hollydale’s principal, the lending libraries are true examples of community support.

“We are all learning to navigate this new normal,” said Principal Ridgway. “However, a constant theme is the outpouring of love and dedication from our community to help our students continue to learn. It’s amazing what we can do together.”