When fourth grade student Ricardo Ramirez is done eating his lunch, he likes to help custodians.
“He knows they have a lot of work to do in cleaning up the tables and cleaning up the floors, so he eats his lunch and helps with the recycling so they can do their other duties,” Woodstone Librarian Sara Romine explained to a group of attentive students.
That continuous act of kindness and empathy won Ricardo Ramirez a token for the school’s brand-new book vending machine. A proud Ricardo chose a Minecraft book.
Romine unveiled the vending machine funded through a $5,500 NEEF Innovative Grant on Dec. 19. Before pulling the green wrapping paper back, students had their own guesses of what it could possibly be. Some thought it was a refrigerator, while others thought it was reindeer and even Santa Claus. They were even more excited to find a vending machine filled with books.
“These are not library books, you don’t have to bring these backs,” Romine said. “You also can’t use regular money in the machine. You have to use special coins in the machine.”
Principal Kelli Halliburton explained that staff will be looking for students who are exhibiting traits that embody leadership, kindness and empathy. Tokens will be awarded at their Synergy rally every Friday.
To break in the new vending machine, Ricardo and four other students received the first tokens. Their peers cheered them on as they walked up to the decked out vending machine to select their new read.
“Giving students freedom to choose their own books to read is one of the key components in developing their identities as readers,” Romine said. “Which will in turn encourage more reading. Ultimately, students build an identity as a book owner and begin collaborating as a reading community.”
Congratulations, Woodstone readers!