Thousands of books collected by Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts in six states began making their way to the classrooms of LCPS’s newest teachers Thursday in the first step of a distribution process that will eventually help stock library shelves in all the district’s schools.
The Scouts’ outreach effort grew out of a desire to assist North Carolina counties pummeled by Hurricane Florence and the flooding that followed, according to Richard Bogen, an executive with the Kinston-based East Carolina Council of Boys Scouts of America and a member of the Lenoir County Board of Education.
Bogan credited Doug Brown, scout executive with the council, for arranging the donation that benefited schools in Craven, Jones and Onslow counties as well as Lenoir.
“After the hurricane, scout executives all across the country began calling Doug Brown, our local CEO, and asking what they could do,” Bogan said. “He ended up with 10 different Boy Scout councils from Wisconsin to North Carolina. He called an old friend who’s in the trucking business and said, ‘I need trucks and here’s what we’re doing.’ One truck started in Wisconsin and another started in Arkansas and picked up the items Doug had on his list.”
In all, the Scouts collected about 17,000 items, from packages of socks and underwear to sets of school supplies to library books. The some 5,000 books that came to Lenoir County actually represented the overage of donated books after needs in hard-hit Jones and Onslow counties were met, Bogan said.
The surplus filled a deficit for teachers like Skylar Stewart, a mid-year graduate who took over a third-grade class at La Grange Elementary School on Dec. 6 after interning at the school.
Before Thursday, her classroom library consisted mainly of leveled readers, slim volumes designed to determine a student’s level of reading proficiency and to aid reading instruction. “Definitely more instructional than recreational,” she said.
She and other new teachers – those with one or two years of experience – were given early access to the stacks of donated books stored at Kinston High School. They browsed the stacks and stuffed books they thought would appeal to their students into plastic bags.
“I’m trying to pick series, the Magic Tree House books, some C.S. Lewis – things I know kids want to see,” Stewart said.
Alexia Williams doesn’t teach reading – she’s a first-year math and science teacher at Northeast Elementary – but she’s a big fan of reading and of books. “I think books mean a lot. Reading a book to me is fun,” she said as she shopped the stacks.
“When we have spare time, I do allow the kids to read,” Williams said of her fourth graders. “I got books I thought would be of interest to them, books that have really catchy, catchy titles. I have a lot of different books I think my girls will like and I found some Star Wars and other books I think my boys will like – just something when they’re finished with their work that they’ll be interested in.”
The donated books ranged from coloring books to storybooks to chapter books for older students and adult readers – accumulated by Scouts over 30 days from a variety of sources, including public libraries and businesses, according to Bogan. Those not chosen for teachers’ classroom libraries will be parceled out to school libraries.