Community libraries part of APT efforts in Carbon Hill

Posted 7/6/19

CARBON HILL — Students at Carbon Hill Elementary/Jr. High School are working on a project to improve literacy in their community.A group of first-grade students enrolled in the school's summer …

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Community libraries part of APT efforts in Carbon Hill


CARBON HILL — Students at Carbon Hill Elementary/Jr. High School are working on a project to improve literacy in their community.

A group of first-grade students enrolled in the school's summer program started painting old newspaper boxes on Tuesday that will be turned into libraries and placed at businesses in Carbon Hill. 

The Daily Mountain Eagle donated five newspaper boxes for the project.

Carbon Hill Elementary interventionist Amy Atkins said the paint and books to stock the boxes are being provided through a grant that has made a positive impact at the school.    

Alabama Public Television (APT) was awarded a Ready to Learn Television Grant last November for $175,000 through the U.S. Department of Education's Ready to Learn Initiative.  

Before funds were distributed to APT, they were originally awarded to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). 

A press release from APT states that the grant funding is being used with community partners such as the YMCA of Greater Birmingham, United Way of Central Alabama, the Walker County Board of Education and the Walker Area Community Foundation.

"Work will help young learners in Walker County, a rural area where the poverty level, especially among families with young children, has been increasing," according to the press release.

For the past few months, Carbon Hill Elementary/Jr. High School and Oakman Middle School have been served through the grant, and students have participated in a number of science and literacy activities.

The newspaper box library project is one of the funded projects.

APT Director of Programming and Public Information Mike McKenzie said the Ready to Learn grant will last through September 2020 at both schools. 

"The schools did not receive any funding directly, but rather, services and some goods. Through the grant APT is providing materials, professional development for educators, curriculum, etc., for family camps and camps for kids," McKenzie said in an emailed statement to the Daily Mountain Eagle. "The goal is to develop inquiry skills and spark curiosity in children ages 2-8 in Oakman and Carbon Hill through engaging science and literacy content, personalized and adaptive learning, and community engagement."

The Ready to Learn exercises at both schools help CPB and PBS evaluate PBS KIDS programs and their educational effectiveness as well.   

Atkins said it has been incredible to witness children working with their parents and grandparents to complete the APT sponsored learning opportunities that involve crafting, reading, games and interactive play. 

"I have loved seeing the families come out and stick with the program. I was very impressed with our parents that showed up week after week to spend time with their kids," Atkins said. "It really helped build their relationships. The kids were a little more tech-savvy than their parents were, so it was good to see the kids take on that role of teaching something to their parents. We had a lot of grandparents to come also."

The workshops also allowed parents to develop bonds with one another.

Oakman Elementary has completed similar activities through the APT grant; however, the school's site director could not be reached for comment.

Daily Mountain Eagle Publisher James Phillips said the Eagle is always happy to contribute to local educational efforts, and he's glad to have partnered with APT to provide newspaper boxes for students to turn into libraries. 

“If a newspaper doesn’t do its absolute best to support literacy efforts, we would not be doing a very good job of solidifying our own future,” Phillips said. “This was a great partnership for us, and we were happy to be able to help by donating the boxes to be repurposed as little libraries."