Optimists Donate Books Needed for New Core Curriculum

When in need, go to an Optimist. That’s what Kenowa Hills fifth-grade teachers did when they decided they needed new books at Central Elementary School. They asked the Kent Optimist Club of Grand Rapids for help in purchasing titles for a challenging new curriculum. The result: Optimist Club members delivered $1,500 worth of books shortly after school began. The 120 books will be shared among four, fifth-grade classrooms and with Kenowa’s other elementaries.

Veteran teacher Jodi VanDam said the new titles were needed to meet literature guidelines of the Common Core, a new curriculum Kenowa and other districts have adopted.  “We wanted to make sure we have some newer genres, different types of books that will fulfill that,” VanDam said of herself and fellow teachers Rochelle Compau, Lisa Monroe and Margie Yokom.

The new books include a graphic novel, a poetry collection, and works of mythology and fantasy, none of which were well represented in the school’s library.

Optimist members gladly help teachers with supplies, said Harry Margo, past president of the local chapter and new vice president of Optimist International. Kent Optimists also gave $1,200 worth of books to the Godfrey-Lee Elementary library in the spring.“ We know schools can use some extra help,” Margo said. “A lot of them are struggling, and a lot of teachers spend money out of their own pocket to get things for kids.”

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Charles Honey
Charles Honey is a freelance writer and former columnist for The Grand Rapids Press/ MLive.com. As a reporter for The Press from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today magazine, Religion News Service and the Aquinas College alumni magazine. Read Charles' full bio.

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