Anchorage elementary school librarian receives national award
For College Gate Elementary librarian, Dona Helmer, there’s no better present than the gift of reading.
That’s why each student at the school — all 400 of them — will get a new book before the holiday break.
“They’re sorting so we don’t have such confusion when they come into get their book,” Helmer explained as a class divided up the books by age group. “Books we don’t use here at College Gate will go to Toys for Tots.”
Helmer pays for all of the gifted books out of her own pocket.
“It’s just giving back in some small way. Because I do love it. And I know how much a book meant to me at Christmas time or the holidays,” she said.
It’s projects like this that helped earn Helmer a spot on the “I Love My Librarians” Top 10 award list.
Across the country there are more than 165,000 certified librarians, and she was chosen from more than 1,300 entries for the award.
“The library is so much larger than this room. I’m always working on projects to get the students mentally out of the library and into the community,” Helmer said.
One way students do that is by giving back to the homeless. Kids use the library resources to research the issue then create blankets for people in need. This year they’ll craft about 60 fleece blankets for the Brother Francis Shelter.
Helmer also started the Library store where kids can earn Dewey Dollars to buy school supplies they might not otherwise be able to afford.
She said she’s blessed to have been at College Gate for almost two decades. The position is special to her, since she didn’t grow up with a school librarian.
“I realize now and I realized then, intuitively, how very important it was to have a school library. To have a school librarian, someone who cared passionately about books and helping people find the right book,” she smiled.
It’s about more than finding the right book, it’s about fostering a love of reading that will keep kids turning the page for years to come.
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