Weekly Feature



2017-10-12 / Front Page

New library media center feels more like home to students at Hillview Elementary

by ALAN RIZZO Reporter


Library media specialist Jason Wright, an employee of the Lancaster Central School District, leads kindergarten students in a group activity on Friday in Hillview Elementary’s new library media center. The updated space, which replaces Hillview’s old library, features kid-sized shelving, reading nooks, and brightly colored furniture that can be reorganized for cooperative learning. 
Photo by Jim SmerecakPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Library media specialist Jason Wright, an employee of the Lancaster Central School District, leads kindergarten students in a group activity on Friday in Hillview Elementary’s new library media center. The updated space, which replaces Hillview’s old library, features kid-sized shelving, reading nooks, and brightly colored furniture that can be reorganized for cooperative learning. Photo by Jim SmerecakPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com With kid-sized shelving, brightly colored furniture and reading nooks along the walls, Hillview Elementary’s new library media center is becoming a second home for students looking to dive into a good book, or use Chromebooks to explore further.

Third-grader Maxwell Zeis, 8, said as a reader, he’s a fan of the furniture and new atmosphere.

“It’s very comfortable with the new couches, quiet, peaceful,” he said.

Classmate Gabrielle Bindemann, 7, likes that she “can sit down on the couches and do Chromebooks,” using them to research books online.

Replacing the old school library, the center is one of several updates Hillview received this year in Lancaster Central’s latest capital project, along with improvements to its library, art room, nurse’s office and playground.

Library media specialist Jason Wright, who uses the center regularly for class activities, said its new open floor plan, seating and “individualized spaces” have led to more student enthusiasm in reading, because the center is a more personal place than its predecessor.

“With the use of the furniture, the kids kind of see it as an extension of their homes in some ways,” said Wright, who was introducing Sara Lima’s first-grade class to chapter books in the center on Oct. 4. “I don’t want to say it was a dreary space before, but it hadn’t been redone in quite a few years, and it was kind of sectioned off in various areas.”

Wright said that in the new center, students can use individualized spaces or nooks to “branch off” from group instruction and explore a book with a partner, use Chromebooks to read e-books, or work on new critical thinking puzzles, which emphasize science, technology, engineering and math principles.

Amy Moeller, Hillview’s principal, said the center’s atmosphere was intentionally constructed to promote that kind of learning, namely the cooperative learning structures of Dr. Spencer Kagan.

“We’re a big Kagan cooperative learning district, so we purposely picked modern furniture, which you can reconfigure,” Moeller said, explaining that the new seats and desks with curved tops can be reorganized to help students in kindergarten through third grade collaborate on writing and math assignments. “It’s very primary focused.”

She said new, shorter bookshelves, which stand approximately 3 feet tall, were also designed with young students in mind.

And while the center was designed for Hillview’s students, Moeller said teachers are also making use of the space and a new workroom next door when preparing lessons and during professional development.

“It’s like a win-win, for obviously the kids most importantly, but we like to be in here, too,” she said.

Moeller said students who attend Hillview visit the center twice weekly, once for library media instruction with Wright and once for a book exchange.

Helping Wright provide instruction at the center will be newly hired library media aide Michelle Frys, who, like Wright, will travel between the school and John A. Sciole Elementary to serve students and teachers.

Moeller said Frys’ schedule will be opposite Wright’s, who visits Hillview on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

“She’s really excited to work at both schools,” Moeller said.

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