Drummond Elementary third grade teacher Ms. Alexis Hasty and fifth grade teacher Ms. Jami Miller each received a grant of $500 and 500 Scholastic Book Clubs Bonus Points for the purpose of building classroom and at-home libraries for their students. They are among 5,000 teachers throughout the United States who received a grant, part of a $2.5 million personal donation made by best-selling author James Patterson and a Scholastic Book Clubs match of 2.5 million Bonus Points.
To be considered for the grant, Hasty and Miller had to fill out a form on Scholastic’s website and were asked to share in 50 characters or less how they planned to use the funds and Bonus Points to help build their classroom libraries.
Miller said her immediate reaction to finding out she was a winner is kind of funny.
“I applied for this like three or four months ago so I kind of forgot about it,” she said. “The letter was actually delivered to another teacher's mailbox so she brought it to me and said it was from Scholastic. My immediate response to her was, ‘Oh it's probably junk mail,’ but then when I opened it and saw it said, ‘Congratulations! You won!’ I was shocked, and I had to read the whole thing to make sure it wasn’t a scam.”
As a grant recipient, they will have access to additional support from Patterson and Scholastic Book Clubs in the form of a special online boutique filled with promotional discounts on books for every type of reader, as well as a monthly newsletter filled with ideas for building classroom and at-home libraries, all created with the goal of helping teachers stretch the dollars even further to benefit as many kids as possible.
Hasty wrote in her application that she would like to increase the diversity in her classroom library.
“I want to be able to provide a collection of books that lets students see themselves as characters,” she said. “I want to offer books that feature different cultures and ethnicities.”
She is going to research titles and purchase the books later this semester. With the remaining money, she is going to offer her VilleMade students a chance to pick out their own book.
Students in Miller’s class each got a book today that they picked out for themselves from Scholastic. They will be able to take it home with them to keep.
“Most of them already knew what they wanted to get because by fifth grade, they read series and have their favorites, so most of them already had a book in mind,” Miller said. “For the ones who didn't know, we discussed what they like to read about so that I could give them ideas of what would fit them.”
The rest of the books she got will be placed in her classroom library.
“I bought sets of books and things that are a part of their favorite series like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dog Man, and I Survived,” Miller said.
This year marks the sixth annual installment of the Patterson Partnership, created to build classroom and home libraries and assist teachers in acquiring books and other materials desperately needed by them and their students. The 2020 partnership drew a total of more than 100,000 applicants from teachers nationwide, showing the dire need for books and classroom resources. To date, Patterson has donated $11 million to school and classroom libraries through his Scholastic Book Clubs campaign.
Patterson hopes that teachers and students will share their experiences in their communities using #pattersonpledge. All teachers in PreK through grade 12 in US schools were eligible to apply for the grant. All funds are being personally donated by James Patterson, and all Bonus Points are being donated by Scholastic Book Clubs.
“Whether students are learning virtually at home or in the classroom, the importance of keeping them reading cannot be underscored enough,” Patterson said in a press release. “Reading teaches kids empathy, gives them an escape when they most need it, helps them grapple with harsh realities, and perhaps most importantly, will remind them that they are not alone—even if they’re unable to see their teachers, classmates and friends in-person. Over the past six months, reading has certainly helped me cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and I can only hope it will do the same for kids and teachers everywhere.”