Thirteen Germantown Friends School Middle School students spent a recent day off from school helping Emlen Elementary School in Mt. Airy to organize a library.
“These students could be sleeping-in and relaxing, but instead they are here working to make this library happen, and we really appreciate that,” said the school’s principal Tammy Thomas.
Earlier this year, community organizers, including former GFS parent Dan Gordon, raised funds for 33 new iMac computers for the school’s computer lab, and made setting up a library their next priority.
“Dan Gordon has done an amazing job pooling resources and talent from the surrounding neighbors,” said Sally West Williams, GFS director of advancement and a volunteer at the Emlen School. “It is great to have GFS included in this effort.”
Several local schools collected and donated thousands of books. The GFS students categorized the books, giving each one an “Emlen School” stamp, and prepared them for shelving in the new library. Thomas explained that age-classifying the books helps the elementary students independently find a “just right” book for them, and allows teachers to easily borrow bins of books for their classrooms.
“The school’s reading scores are not where they should be, and we want to improve that,” said Thomas. “The staff is overwhelmed by all of the help that we have received, and the parents and students are very excited. It’s wonderful to see what we can accomplish when we come together as a community.”
Gordon, a Mt. Airy resident, reached out to GFS students to help the community effort.
“After finishing the computer lab, we decided to move on to installing a library,” he said. “We want to have it up and running by early January, so this is the crunch month, and we need all the help we can get.”
The students assembled shelves and removed 45 desks from the classroom that will become the new library. The room has new bookcases, a fresh coat of paint and, when it’s complete, will have four computers, a SMART Board, a comfy sofa and beanbag chairs.
“We are lucky to have a big school library, so it’s nice to give these kids the opportunity to have something that we have,” observed GFS seventh-grader Madeleine McGrath.
Eighth-grader Katie Maguire added, “It feels so good to give back and to help people, because without this library these kids would not have the opportunity to read very much or very often. It’s great that GFS students were offered the opportunity to help them. I feel so lucky to [be able to help] give these students the right to learn.”