Typically we write about the direct effect of donations – books purchased, staff hired, and materials provided – but this time we’d like to emphasize a part of our library program less visible to donors but equally indebted to their contributions: the Chukmuk School’s Library Champions.
In just a few months at our elementary school library in Chukmuk, we noticed that some students were investing more than the rest. It was only a small group – between seven and thirteen, total – but they were always the first to arrive at literacy activities, the eagerest volunteers during lessons, and the ones that invited their friends from the community to attend free sessions after school hours.
It didn’t take long for Lidia, the project librarian, to enlist their help. After activities she would teach them how to take care of the books and organize the library's shelves. Then the group would gather materials, put everything back, and make sure the library was clean and accessible for the next class.
It didn’t stop there, though. With time a few students lost interest, but others invested even more. Those that stayed began to call themselves the Library Champions, and the name stuck.
Now the Champions are a mainstay of the library. Every day they help run activities: after school they are responsible for greeting incoming groups of students, determining an appropriate book for the group, and then selecting it from the shelf and handing it over. Sometimes during Tuesday afternoon sessions they divide grades into parts – one part for each champion – and they read books aloud and lead open discussions on the stories. For sessions during school recess they design and lead literacy-based games for the other students.
Anybody is welcome to join. New students do so monthly – the current champions just gather together and explain their responsibilities and how to work as a team. Best of all, literacy and leadership born in the library extend beyond the school and into the community. Recently a father came to the school and told Lidia about how he saw his daughter – a frequent visitor to the library – teaching her younger sister how to read with a book she had borrowed from the school library. “I’m seeing a change in her,” he said.
None of this would be possible without your generosity. Your donations created a center for literacy and growth that members of the local community, and especially our Champions, have come to treasure.