Durham middle school educators find creative ways to keep students reading

Posted May 15, 2020 5:58 p.m. EDT
Updated May 15, 2020 8:37 p.m. EDT

The Durham Public School System hosts meal sites across the county to feed families in need each week. Recently, educators have become more creative with how they connect with their students while distributing food.

The traditional school year wrapped up pretty quickly for Durham Public School families, leaving students no time to return their books. Similar to the “Little Free Library” seen in many neighborhoods, Neal Middle School’s librarian decided to create a version of her own.

“I’ve got my little Neal monster here eating up all the books to bring them back," said media coordinator Elaina Moriarty.

Take a book. Leave a book. That’s the message Moriarty has for students as she stands outside the Horton Career and Resource Center meal pick-up site.

“We were able to partner with Book Harvest to give away some free books out here so I can get my library books back, but send students back with their very own to keep," she added.

As parents drive by to pick up meals, they can request how ever many books they need for each student in their household.

"I love reading book. These might be my favorite book," said one student in a car.

Book Harvest donated 250 bags filled with a variety of different genres. The remote book drop is also inspiring reading challenges over the summer.

Moriarty said this reminds her why she’s always been so passionate about her job.

“It’s such a unique way to connect with kids both inside the classroom and out. It’s so important to develop those literacy and digital information literacy skills," she said.

Assistant Principal Matt Hickson, who has coordinated this meal site for the past few weeks, said this is just one example of how teachers continue to invest their time, even during the coronavirus outbreak.

“I just ask people to continue to plug in and make sure they know this is long hall effort to support each other and continue to build the kind of community we want to have here in Durham," said Hickson.

“The remote book drop and pick-up is something they plan to continue having every Tuesday and Friday at the Horton Career and Resource Center. Book Harvest also supplies books for four other Durham meal sites.

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