Phyllis Humphrey, librarian at Cole Middle School.
It’s not a quiet time for Cole Middle School librarian Phyllis Humphrey. She travels to California next week, then Japan in June, as a participant in a Japan-U.S. teacher exchange program and she recently learned the library will receive a $9,300 grant from the state Office of Library and Information Services and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to integrate the reading of fiction and nonfiction books.
The exchange was a program Humphrey applied for earlier this year. She found out only a few weeks ago she was one of 24 teachers nationwide to earn a spot in the exchange program, which is jointly funded by the U.S. and Japan.
The idea behind the exchange is to have teachers from both countries learn from each other and build relationships, with a focus on teaching children about sustainable development.
It will take place in two parts: a joint conference with Japanese teachers in San Francisco from May 4 to May 7 and a study tour to Japan from June 16 to July 1.
“I love to travel and I love to learn about other people,” said Humphrey about why she applied. This will be her first trip to Japan. One of the good things about this sort of trip, she said, is the access to places not typically on the tourist circuit. The details are still a bit vague about just what they will be doing while in Japan, but visits to government officials and Japanese schools are likely.
As for the grant, Humphrey is quick to credit sixth grade teachers Molly Tierney and Ashley Humbyrd, who also worked on the application. The idea, she said, was to help connect fiction to nonfiction, helping both genres come alive for the reader.
Humphrey gave an example of the books, “The Gospel According to Larry,” by Janet Tashjian, in which the main character decides to create a website debunking consumerism, and the nonfiction book “Is American Society Too Materialistic?” by Ronald D. Lankford. The fiction book can help to draw readers into the nonfiction book.
After students read the two books, they then will create a book “trailer” video on one of them, much like a movie trailer, as a way to learn about the book and help sell it to other readers. The grant money will go toward buying a few Windows 8 tablets that will allow students to do all their work in one device. And the trailers will be uploaded on Youtube (probably), making them available to a much wider audience.
So the school year will end with a bang for Mrs. Humphrey. Shhhh! It’s a library….