St. Mary's Academy
385 students • Grades 7 to 11
Brother James DePiro, Acting Principal
Miss Bazil, Librarian
The Beverly Foundation adopted this project
Background from Hands: St. Mary’s Academy is a well-regarded, medium-size boys secondary school, located in the capital city of Roseau. The school library was packed with mostly old and inappropriate books, and Librarian Ms. Bazil lamented that it was extremely challenging to get the boys interested in using the library. Thanks to an infusion of books from Hands in 2015-2016 this is no longer the case; more and more students are coming in and borrowing books. Ms. Bazil has been working hard getting the library organized; clearing and tidying the library and shelves, culling redundant books, book-pocketing the new books and displaying them attractively. She has also been clearing out clutter and brightening up the library by putting up literacy posters. The room looks a lot more appealing!
The students love the new books and more are showing interest and enthusiasm in reading. When Hands Literacy Link Celia Sorhaindo visited, one of the students told Ms. Bazil that she had to keep an eye on the new Jay-Z book to make sure nothing happened to it, as it was his favorite. The dictionary and the Guinness Book of World Records are also extremely popular with the students, as not all students have access to the Internet at home and some use the library for homework. Ms. Bazil is very thankful for the donation of 360 new books and says it's been the most useful and greatest gift they have received from a donor. In the past they have received books that were old and not attractive or interesting. A follow-up shipment of books from Hands is needed to help bring the book-to-student ratio up to an acceptable standard.
The Hands Literacy Link for Grenada, Olivia Phillip, first visited the school in September of 2015 and discussed with the Principal how to create a lending library. First up was shelving. Principal Belfon contacted a couple of hardware providers asking for assistance, and the school received a donation of lumber for library shelving. Not long after that a workman arrived to build the shelves, with guidance from Olivia. Together with the library assistant, an Imani worker (government employment scheme), and some students. Olivia also led the clearing out of the old books for disposal or for storage elsewhere. Olivia also trained the school’s Imani worker in library management.With the addition of a full-time librarian, the library is now functioning one hundred percent. Books are catalogued and adequately shelved (a book inventory exists, books are levelled, color-coded, and grouped appropriately; books are displayed with their covers facing out; shelves are labeled; the Color Code Guide is posted; books are at eye-level and are able to be reached by students). Library furniture is now adequate (bookshelves, tables, chairs, and a comfy reading corner). Though the space is somewhat small, there are adequate chairs and tables to seat up to 15 students. Literacy murals and posters are sufficient (the school has made an effort to make the space engaging, educational, and child-friendly). All that’s needed now is another infusion of books to serve all of the 457 students.
St. Michael's RC Primary School
108 students • Grades K to 6
Desmond Lewis, Principal
Rachel Passmore, U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer
The New Zealand High Commission, Bridgetown, Barbados, adopted this project
Background from Hands: This small primary school is located in a rural, agriculture-dependent community, a far way off the main road. The school has a tiny library, but it is packed with old, “donation dumped” books. There is no literacy coordinator, but the school has an energetic U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, Rachel Passmore, who will be rejuvenating, with help from Hands, the library. The students show a great interest in reading, but they have already exhausted the meager selection of decent books; there are classroom libraries with, again, old not-so-wonderful books. (Teachers are asked to source the books from wherever they can.) Most of the students, given the lack of books, are reading below grade level. Other factoids: there are several literacy initiatives planned for the library; a Readers and Writers Club is run by Spanish teacher; children are asked to source books from wherever they can; there is reading and sharing during assembly; the school struggles with getting parents involved; there are a lot of young parents, often unemployed, with multiple children.
Banse La Grace Primary School
100 students • Grades K to 6
Virginia Edward, Principal
Doug Temple, U. S. Peace Corps Volunteer
Margo & Sam adopted this project
Background from Hands: U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer Doug Temple arrived at the school in September and is co-teaching Grades 1 and 3 as well as working with the library teacher. Their old library was termite-ridden, and the German Embassy completely renovated the space, with a budget of Euro 12,000 Euros which included new material for the ceiling, paint, dividing the space into two rooms, and more. The German Honorary Consul herself, Mrs. Karolin Troubetzkoy, contributed two air-conditioning units to the library in March of 2017. The materials from the old library were sorted through for termite-ridden books and put into the old IT lab upstairs where a temporary library space was created using the metal bookshelves sent previously by Hands. Doug is on the school’s Literacy Team with Ms. Edward (the literacy coordinator), along with his other co-teacher, and they are working on a new literacy policy. As part of that policy, the library is now timetabled with each class having a period, teachers are reading aloud to students in the infant department, and a new literacy framework is being created. The library is still lending books to students in the interim. Once the new space is opened they want to also create a space for secondary students and adults in the small front room of the library so that they can get the community involved. The principal estimated that about 60% of the students are struggling readers.
Laborie RC Boys Primary School
116 students • Grades K to 6
Julian Darcheville, Principal
Alan Strathman, U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer
The Rotary Club of West Chester, Pennsylvania, & Carol adopted this project
Background from Hands: This school has a spacious library with newly-painted shelves, but also has a recurring termite problem. U. S. Peace Corps Volunteer Alan Strathman has been using the Hands Across the Sea Library Manual for Primary Schools to sort out books from some previous “donation dumped” shipments from Canada. The school is still using classroom libraries until completion of the library. Strathman is very dedicated—coming in on weekends and staying late after school. The team at the school has been working hard to renovate the library and eradicate the termite problem. They have already gone through all the books and set aside all the termite-damaged ones. They have also cleaned out the books that were old or inappropriate. (We recommended a book sale as that would help the school bring in money).
The library, at first sight, although rather dark and dingy, looks tidy with a lot of neatly-arranged books. However, the books are mostly adult paperbacks and old encyclopedias—only part of one shelf contains children’s books. In addition, the shelves, which are quite high, are pulled away from the wall so that all kinds of stuff (old furniture, musical instruments, and more) can be stored and forgotten behind. Let the cleaning and clearing begin.