Picture This … Life

Colleen Grady, a Teacher-Librarian at Midway Elementary School wanted to create a more “user-friendly” biography section in their library and applied for an Excel Grant last fall. “The current Biography section of the Midway Library is predominantly chapter books (with a few pictures and dense text). Our population includes many ELL students who could benefit greatly from a more accessible (user-friendly) collection. There are many beautiful picture book biographies being published now, with an average hardback copy price of $15. $500 would go a long way toward converting our collection from chapter books to picture book biographies to assist more students in learning about real people’s lives and accomplishments.

Midway Library

Midway Library
Library Biography section (921)

According to Colleen, “the generous $500 Excel Grant allowed me to purchase 35 new picture book biographies for our Midway students. These beautiful books bring the lives of real people to life in an inviting, accessible way for our diverse population of learners. I have been very gratified by student response to broadening background knowledge of people previously unknown to them.

It’s been great to share biographical information this year as particular birthdays: (George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, Jr.) and celebrations: (Black History, Women’s History, Poetry, Bus Boycott) marked the calendar. Students are anxious to check out the new biographies to read themselves after they have been introduced.”

We think this collection looks interesting, regardless of age or language . We see books about Walt Disney (For example, did you know that in 1919, Walt Disney’s newspaper editor told the aspiring cartoonist he wasn’t creative enough? Really! He was fired from the Kansas City Star because, according to his editor, he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”) Nelson Mandela (who once said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”) Audrey Hepburn (When Ms. Hepburn was 5 years old, her ballet teacher advised her mother that Audrey had a natural talent and would be able to make an excellent career in ballet if she received the right training and worked hard enough.”)

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a remarkable true story about human inventiveness and its power to overcome crippling adversity. It will inspire anyone who doubts the power of one individual’s ability to change his community and better the lives of those around him. Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci is the story about Leonardo Fibonacci who lived in medieval Italy – as a boy he was teased for being a blockhead and who later discovered what came to be
known as the Fibonacci Sequence!

Such a wonderful group of books – thank you Ms. Grady for creating a wonderful collection for your students that we are sure will be enjoyed for many years to come.

About Excel Grants: Every year, the Highline Schools Foundation grants teachers the funds they need to support unique and innovative programs in their classrooms that their school’s budget can’t provide. We want to support activities and experiences that expand the learning process and actively engage students. Since the projects origin in February 2002, we have distributed more than $232,000 to HPS through Excel and MAD Grants! Grant requests are accepted each fall and we announce the program on our website and Facebook.

Since 1999, the Highline Schools Foundation has been supporting innovation and excellence in Highline Public Schools. Our funding priorities focus on programs to improve academic achievement, supporting college and career readiness, grants to teachers for engaging classroom projects, the arts, athletics, and programs that keep students in school and productive. Highline is a district full of need and opportunity. The Highline Schools Foundation is the only non-profit organization dedicated to all schools in our district—our goal is to help as many students as possible be successful!

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