Jennifer Kleinknecht, media specialist at H.B. Whitehorne Middle School, received a grant last month that she plans to put to extremely good use.
For the past several years, Kleinknecht has received multiple grants through VFEE (the Verona Foundation for Educational Excellence). Although VFEE has been incredibly generous, Kleinknecht felt it was time to expand her resources. As it turned out, Scholastic Books had just the right opportunity: The publisher had received a $1.75 million donation from author James Patterson to supply books–and not just Patterson best-sellers–to school libraries. Any of the 62,000 schools in Scholastic’s K-12 U.S. school network could apply for the book grants, and 27,924 did, by answering the question, “what would your school library do with $1,000 to $10,000?”
But thanks to Kleinknecht, HBW was one of just 467 winners, only 14 of which are in New Jersey. That means that she will get new books for HBW every month for one year. Patterson acknowledged that, “These grants are my humble acknowledgement of some terrific work taking place in libraries. Here’s to communities supporting school libraries. Here’s to a country that makes reading a priority. Here’s to flourishing libraries!”
Anyone who has been in the HBW library or helped with a Scholastic book fair knows that Kleinknecht is passionate not just about reading, but about finding the right books for her students. She stated, “I am on a constant quest to bring the newest and best fiction to the students of HBW. I truly believe that all students can get excited about reading when they are matched to the right books! We have many avid readers in Verona, so I relish the idea of 11 shiny new books being added to our shelves each month for the next 12 months!”
For a library that is rich with content and supplies all the books for the HBW Battle of the Books, one may wonder what types of books would help to strengthen that room. An incredible resource for her students, Kleinknecht says, “I have been spending a lot of time going through the fiction collection and removing titles that are musty, dusty, or unappealing due to their tattered condition or outdated content. Our library is a beautiful space, and I want to fill it with only the very best books.”
“Winning this grant was almost as exciting as winning the Powerball!”, Kleinknecht said. “If any other teacher in the district would like help finding or writing grants, I would be more than happy to help them.”