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Scholastic’s ClassroomsCount helps educators build libraries

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Dec 14, 2022

Scholastic’s ClassroomsCount campaign is helping two teachers in the School District of Lee County, with one being a teacher whose classroom was hard hit by Hurricane Ian in Cape Coral.

“The hurricane has proved to be constant readjustment and it is a process to find all of our teaching materials,” Hector A. Cafferata Jr. Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Stephanie Kesterson said. “I do think I have to gear my new classroom library even more to my students’ needs, especially for English Language Learners. I try to help them choose books on their level that I call ‘need books’ in addition to letting them pick out ‘want books’ for themselves to encourage reading.”

Stacey Jaffe, senior vice president, digital services at Scholastic, said the Scholastic ClassroomsCount launched in 2020, allowing teachers to raise funds to buy Scholastic resources for their classrooms.

“It was created as a direct result of our ongoing and ever present conversations with teachers, where they told us how much they desired a program such as this,” she said. “Staying true to our mission of helping all educators support student learning, we were eager to launch this platform for our teacher community and to help them put even more books and resources in the hands of their students.”

Teachers are able to create their own campaign to share with their friends, family and community through three simple steps at https://www.scholastic.com/content/educators/en/classroom-funds/funds-marketing.html.

“What educators raise is what they can spend. The money raised is available to spend immediately without hidden fees and without meeting a specific campaign goal,” Jaffe said. “Over the past year, teachers created over 18,000 campaigns nationwide, raising over $2 million on ClassroomsCount.”

Campaigns can be created at any time and, on average, it only takes six contributors to fully fund a teacher’s Classrooms Count campaign on average.

“ClassroomCounts allows educators to raise funds to enhance their classroom resources, and offers them 100 percent of the funds they raise to be spent across the Scholastic product lines. Today, ClassroomsCount, is part of Scholastic’s core offering to teachers. We see the funds being spent across a wide variety of products, everything from the newest book releases to classroom magazines,” Jaffe said.

She said educators have used the funds to enhance lessons, make students’ birthdays extra special by gifting books, help build home libraries, and kick starting summer reading efforts by creating a book mobile that drives through local neighborhoods and allows kids to check out books like a library on wheels.

“I love the staff I work with and the kids that I have in my classroom,” Kesterson said. “It has been an uphill battle for my students as they are still dealing with COVID and now the hurricane. We were only in school for five or six weeks when Ian hit and there’s a lot of catching up to do. I have 58 students now and it’s been a process to find all of our teaching materials.”

She said through the campaign, she is building her classroom library one book at a time.

“With my last order, I bought some holiday books, which will be especially relevant this month. Because the campaign is ongoing, I can start to remember what books I had and replace those items on my own time,” Kesterson said. “My students love all types of books. When I got the boxes from Scholastic donations, I was excited and humbled by it. I showed every cover of every book to the kids and they were thrilled. A couple of my boys have plowed through all the ‘Bad Guys’ books and they love the ‘I Survived’ books, too.”

Individuals can contribute to her campaign by visiting https://shop.scholastic.com/viewCampaign?campaignId=b2cc9479-f22d-4f5e-b902-07b4e070c152.

“Anytime I can get kids into books and reading, it’s a win,” she said. “I’m all for it. Sometimes they ask to take books home from our classroom library, which is so great to see.”

The other teacher is from a school in Fort Myers.

Orangewood Elementary School second grade teacher Allison Lock said although she does the campaign every year, this year meant more to her.

“I have one particular student who lost everything in the hurricane. I do this campaign every year, but it meant more this year because I knew many had very little, or were displaced,” she said. “I wanted to do more for the kids, but I’m hoping that giving books to each and every kid stirs something in their parents. I hope they show their parents new books to read together, or read with their siblings. I give books every year, but I wanted to give back to this year’s group particularly, as they went through hurricanes, COVID, and are living through tough times as kids. It’s just stressful all the way around for them.”

Lock said she tries to send each student home with a brand-new book several times during the year, as her goal is to ensure every student adds many books to their home library.

“I plan on using my ClassroomCounts donations to purchase nonfiction books and chapter books for my students to read this winter,” she said. “A lot of my kids love reading nonfiction and chapter books, and some don’t have access to those at the local libraries, so I plan to let them choose the books they want from our classroom library and take them home where hopefully a parent, or older sibling can sit down and read with them over the holidays.”

Lock’s campaign can be found at https://shop.scholastic.com/viewCampaign?campaignId=edf73656-fae4-4fc7-91ff-87fe0bed3cf2.

“I love seeing the excitement in student’s reactions when they know they can take a book home to keep. I also love when they fall in love with the book selection,” she said.