Dollar Bay students celebrate grant for new books

DOLLAR BAY — As elementary school students filed into the Dollar Bay gymnasium Wednesday morning, they found a surprise: table after table of new books.

They only had a moment to browse the covers, but that’s OK: they’ll be able to read them anytime they want.

Dollar Bay Elementary School received the books in the gym, and plenty more, through a $9,000 state Classroom Library Enhancement grant.

More than 1,000 books were purchased in the grant. Half of the books will go to kindergarten through third-grade classrooms and the resource room, with duplicates available in the library.

“If they get excited about a book in the classroom, they can go check it out in the library,” said special education teacher Kim Dart.

The selection includes special needs books, books about diversity and books about a variety of cultures, including Finnish-American.

Dart said the grant was conceived around three kinds of books: mirrors, or books we see ourselves in; windows, to see others in; and sliding doors, for opportunities we can have in the future.

“It centered around those three pieces, and giving us the diversity that we don’t always see up here,” Dart said.

The Copper Country Intermediate School District notified the school about the grant opportunity around Christmas break. It came through the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators, which had one available per ISD.

In the application, teachers talked about how it would improve the school’s classroom and library.

“Our librarian has been here for a while, and she says there are books from when her kids were here,” Dart said. “Some things just need to be updated, and some new, more modern pieces brought in to get them excited about reading.”

CCISD Director of General Education Carla Strome and literacy coach Heidi Knuuttila attended Wednesday’s assembly.

“This is what it’s about right? Getting high-quality reading materials into the hands of kids, and it’s so cool for her to have that opportunity to work with the school,” Strome said.

“This is why we do this,” Knuuttila said. “Getting kids reading and loving to read.”

Third-grade teacher Dan Stahl, who applied for the grant and organized other teachers to participate, said teachers asked the students what kinds of books they were interested in, researched books, and picked the ones that would best fit their class. Teachers also received training on how to pick out diverse classroom books.

Dollar Bay books 2 Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Dollar Bay Superintendent/Elementary School Principal Christina Norland reads to students from “The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade,” one of the many new books the district purchased for elementary students with a $9,000 state grant.

Stahl was happy to see the excitement on kids’ faces Monday.

“Last week, they were delivered to my classroom, and my class was just so pumped,” he said. “They are ready to get these books out there and to read them.”

After students settled in on the bleachers, teachers took turns reading excerpts from the books. Superintendent/Elementary Principal Christina Norland capped the assembly by reading a full book: Justin Roberts’ “The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade,” about a girl who stands up to bullies at her school.

At the end, Norland asked the students to raise their pinkies again, this time if they’d seen a book on the table that caught their eye. Nearly all children lifted their hands again.

“If you found a book that caught your attention, maybe you can go home and make a mention of that book to your mom or dad and have them bring you to the library this summer and take it out,” she told them.

This summer, Dollar Bay-Tamarack City will partner with Lake Linden-Hubbell on the Read to Ride program. The prize giveaway will happen at the Tamarack City Park on Aug. 1.


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