Four Marquette elementary schools will receive free books, thanks to the fundraising efforts of Northern Michigan University students enrolled in a “small group process” class taught by Sara Potter. They collected $1,400, which will be divided among Superior Hills, Sandy Knoll, Graveraet and North Star Academy.
After forming the organization Students for Literacy for a Lifetime, the 25 enrolled in the class began fundraising on campus and in the Marquette community.
“There were four groups and all were tasked with completing their own fundraiser,” said Potter. “Each one was different and each group raised an average of $350.”
The idea to raise money for books came from a kindergarten teacher Potter knows personally who was discussing how badly she needed new materials for her classroom, but didn’t have either grant money or out-of-pocked cash to cover the cost of new books.
“We started to talk about the different themes and projects they’re doing and the push by the state for earlier and earlier reading,” Potter said. “This had me thinking about my topic and project for this year’s small group process class. Each year the groups choose a campus or community problem to solve. This would give my class a better opportunity to not only research and plan out a solution, but to actively work to execute it and to see the benefit all the way through to the end.”
A contact within each of the four schools is currently putting together a list of books and themes the teachers would like to see or any particular needs the teachers have. The students have been given a budget of $500 to work with and are using the catalogs from Usborne and Kane Miller Books to put together the final list of what will be purchased. The company has a grant/donation 50 percent matching program for books purchased through it. Potter completed her educational consultant certificate through the company so the project would qualify for matching funds.
Potter sees this as a valuable project for her students. “Often students hate group work. They report that they aren’t connected personally to the projects and that there’s little incentive for everyone to do their fair share of work. They go through the motions because they want a good grade, but often don’t do it because there’s a bigger ‘moral to the story’” Potter said. “This offered them an opportunity to become extrinsically and intrinsically connected to each other and the community. They could do a project that would have tangible products with a benefit that could be immediately seen. It also allowed time to build skills that they normally wouldn’t. They got to connect to their to their campus and use their knowledge and skills in the classroom the benefit of their work outside of campus; hitting maximum retention and transfer.”
The project will end with the class presenting the books to the schools. The students are split into two groups. with one group presenting the books and reading to kindergarteners at Superior Hills and the other group reading with second graders at Sandy Knoll. Potter is planning other 30-minute reading programs with classrooms from each of the other two schools. Students will deliver the books and then stay and read with the elementary students for a brief period of time as well.