• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Northside students delighted with Midway library

A special gift was recently presented to the Midway Branch Library in appreciation of its ongoing outreach efforts to support the education of students at Northside Elementary School. Students in several classes at Northside, and their parents, contributed to the cost of purchasing a rocking chair for the Midway library's community room. "Any time we have kids over (to the library for story time)," said branch manager Stacy Thurman, "we sit and read to them in the rocking chair." She called it "remarkable" that preschool, kindergarten and first-grade students, who regularly visit the Midway library, were able to keep their thank-you gift a secret until an end-of-school-year performance by first-graders on May 18. That's when Thurman received the rocking chair, which she described as "a very sweet gift." "It's an amazing partnership (with the library) because we literally can walk over there," said kindergarten teacher Pamela Hutchison, who has been taking her students to the Midway library for at least two years. "A lot of our kids don't get to go to the (public) library so this is their opportunity to go to the library for story time. And they love it." During the recently completed school year, first-grade teachers Amy Gordon and Emilee Mizell, and preschool teacher Elizabeth Mays also took their classes to the library. Classes made weekly visits to the Midway library. Library staffers came to Northside for twice-monthly preschool story times and once-a-month visits to the school's after-school program, Thurman said. "It's hard for us to reach those children whose parents really don't come to the public library. So by working with the school, we can reach more families," said Thurman. She often reminds Northside's teachers "that we are here for anything that they need ... (And) it goes both ways. We (Northside and the Midway library) have worked hard to build that relationship and see how the library can work with the school," she explained. Visits to the library also expose Northside students to other adults in the community who are as excited about reading as their teachers, Hutchison said. Thurman, who shares story-time reading responsibilities with library staffer Ann Mendenhall, got to read to her 6-year-old daughter and other kindergartners in Hutchison's class every Friday last school year. "So that was very special for me and for Clara," said Thurman. "She loves coming over and telling everybody (she's) at the library with her mommy," she added. Clara tried to get "the inside scoop" on what book was going to be read and what puppets were going to visit with her class each Friday. "Carlos the Dog," Thurman said, "...is there every week. And they love Carlos," whom students wake up from a nap before story time begins. The library's menagerie of puppet-friends includes a pig and cat, as well as a butterfly and dragon, which were donated by Northside students two years ago to say thank you. In addition to nurturing a love of reading, Thurman led science-related activities for her class early-on last school year, Hutchison said. This summer, the Midway Branch Library and Northside Elementary will collaborate on a reading club on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Thurman said. "So we'll go over (to the school) and again add to what they're already doing (at Northside)," she said. "It's very important that they keep them reading."

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