About one year ago, Allen W. Roberts Elementary School Principal Gina Hansen, Vice Principle John Richter and Media Specialist Brandee Conover approached Superintendent David Miceli with a vision for the AWR Media Center and asked, “do you think we can go for it?”
“I said, ‘well, let’s talk a little bit about it,’ and we started to,” Miceli said. “I was just very enthusiastic about the concept of this vision for the media center and I said, ‘go for it, let’s move forward, and see if we can work together with the community groups and the Board [of Education], and try to put all the pieces together so that we can make this vision come together.’”
That vision did come together in a true community fashion with involvement from members of the New Providence Board of Education, New Providence Education Foundation, AWR PTA, the Spring Fling Fundraiser Committee, AWR Parents, Library volunteers and the AWR Class of 2012.
“This project is an example of how a shared vision and the coordination of resources from a variety of stakeholders could provide a warm and stimulating environment for all AWR students to use now and in the future, while being fiscally responsible to the entire community,” Hansen said at Thursday night’s Board of Education Work Session meeting in the newly minted media center. “I want to recognize and thank AWR parent, Mrs. Christine Kohut, for donating her time to create the layout and beautiful color palette for the makeover. In addition, the library would never have been completed without the knowledge and creativity of our District Technology, Maintenance and Custodial Staff.”
In addition, Hansen gave special thanks to all other groups and individuals involved with the makeover.
“I would like to acknowledge Dr. Miceli and the Board of Education for their insight and planning, which provided AWR with the means to replace our media center technology,” Hansen said. “The district has a long-range technology plan that schedules the update of old technology as part of this plan. AWR Media Center was scheduled for an upgrade in the summer of 2012. That was the catalyst for reconfiguring the library. The Board of Education invested approximately $40,000 to upgrade technology in the library.”
The Annual Spring Fling Fundraiser, held on Mar. 30, attracted more than 235 community members. From the funds raised, Hansen said $21,000 was donated for the library renovations, which allowed the school to purchase the paint, furniture, circulation desk, tables, chairs, pillows and accent items.
Two notable students, Katherine and Thomas Dolan, also did their part by volunteering their time this summer to make the media center a special place to read and learn for all students. They were each presented with a Certificate of Excellence at the meeting.
“Both students came in over the summer to create a wonderful and inviting space for the AWR school community,” said Board Member William Dibble. “Tommy and Katie volunteered countless hours to help organize, group and reshelf books. They were all around good helpers and now serve as a stellar example of volunteerism for their peers. Way to go for going above and beyond to help Roberts Library dreams come true.”
But they weren’t the only students who pitched in for the media center.
“The AWR 6th grade class of 2012 had approximately $1,200 left from their class money, which was generously donated it to the project for the younger children’s nook,” Hansen said.
This was a true community effort, as two members of the New Providence Education Foundation, which was established in 2004 with the purpose of providing for initiatives that would enrich the education experience of all students in New Providence, did their part to secure grants for additional amenities in the media center.
“I would like to acknowledge the New Providence Education Foundation. In the fall, Ms. Cathy Cleenput and Mrs. Brandee Conover applied for two Education Foundation grants for an iPad cart and a Smartboard with a projector,” Hansen explained. “They received a grant of approximately $8,350 from the NPEF.”
Both amenities in the new media center will benefit the classroom experience for students and teachers alike.
“Having a SmartBoard and projecter in the media center will give students and teachers instant access to a vast array of resources to be shared as an entire class or differentiated groups, including use as a gifted and talented classroom,” according to an NPEF grant document. “It will also allow teachers and students to obtain information to develop and enhance documents, presentations and projects. In addition, by establishing the iPad cart in both AWR and Salt Brook Elementary School, the library, and gifted and talented programs will benefit. It will also allow teachers to create differentiated research tasks that students can work on independently or in small groups.”
Miceli said there was a lot of hard work and several hours spent planning and designing all aspects of this facility.
“I think in the past couple weeks, with sort of reflecting on the media center and the work that’s been done by all folks here tonight and the different community groups, it gave me the opportunity to really sort of connect what’s been happening in our district over a number of years,” Miceli explained. “We’ve had tremendous success in all buildings, at every level, whether it be sports, academics, the band, various co-curricular groups we have in the district, there has just been tremendous success by our students. I really attribute that to the contributions of this entire community, the board, the parents, and again with the NJ Monthly rankings and our high school being number one. And people said, ‘well, how have you been able to achieve such success and progression over the years?’ I really think this is an example, and there are a numbers of reasons why, but one of the major reasons is the contributions from everyone in this community working together toward a common goal – our students’ achievement.”
Board President John Wolak agreed that the new media center is a true celebration of student success and achievement.
“It demonstrates what can be done when people work cooperatively, including the students, so thank you very much on behalf of the Board of Education, for every one of your efforts.”