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Steve Donker, custodian at the PODER Academy charter school, works on shelving units for books donated by Laramie County School District 1 on Thursday, April 19, 2018, in Cheyenne. The school will be adding a library for around 30 boxes of books to the computer room. Blaine McCartney/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Students at the local charter elementary school will have a school library for the first time this fall.

Poder Academy recently received a large number of books as a donation from Laramie County School District 1.

LCSD1 Trustee Sandy Shanor organized the donation after the trustees heard Feb. 8 from Poder Academy officials that the school had no library.

“I have a deep commitment to reading for children – for everybody. I wish for everybody to read,” Shanor said. “And to hear that children don’t have access when we have the materials for them, it was like those old light bulb cartoons.”

LCSD1 had books available for donation because librarians and staff members recently looked through their book collections and pulled out books they felt were not relevant enough to remain in the schools’ collections.

Shanor said schools use many different ways to decide what books to weed out, but added that many schools use guidelines from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Some of those guidelines include weeding out books that:

  • Contain outdated science or inaccurate information
  • Are unused or repetitious
  • Have newer editions
  • Are worn out, torn or missing pages
  • Are not relevant to the community
  • Do not align with current/popular interests

A couple of months ago, Shanor and a friend went to LCSD1’s warehouse to look at the books staff members pulled from the libraries, and she said she felt most of them still had a lot of life left in them, which made them perfect for donation to Poder Academy.

She proposed the donation to Marcos Martinez, chief executive officer of Poder Academy, and he supported the effort. Eric Jackson, LCSD1’s assistant director of instruction, also agreed and helped Shanor coordinate the donation.

Shanor said the district donated some of the books to the Delta Kappa Gamma used book sale. That group uses the proceeds from its annual sale to support a variety of programs around Laramie County, including money for students studying at Laramie County Community College and the University of Wyoming to become teachers. The rest of the books went to Poder Academy.

LCSD1 donated about 30 boxes of books to the school. Shanor said she also bought back a box of books at the DKG book sale and planned to bring those to Poder Academy.

Steve Donker, Poder Academy’s custodian and maintenance specialist, said the school’s staff members also collected about 15 boxes of books beforehand, so they now have about 45 boxes of books to fill their shelves.

Poder Academy Principal Colton St. Peter said his staff members already have begun the process of separating books by age level and subject.

St. Peter said the library will be in a room that served as a classroom in previous years. The room became available after Poder Academy Secondary School opened in 2017 on Richardson Court. The room also will house the school’s computers, so it will be more of a media center than just a library.

Donker is building shelves for the library portion of the room. They’re short enough for the younger elementary students to reach and will run along one side of the room.

“We’re going to try to repurpose the two big bookshelves in the front office. We’re going to be doing some remodeling, and I didn’t want to lose those,” he said. “Some of that old woodwork is part of the character of these old buildings.”

Shanor said she has spoken with a couple of community members who offered to donate money for more books and for furniture to create a reading spot.

“I hope that somehow we’ll be able to squeeze in a couple of comfortable chairs,” she said.

Donker said he knows the students will love the library because they are always excited to see the Laramie County Library’s Bookmobile, which regularly visits the school.

St. Peter added, “The Bookmobile has been great, but it can only come once a week on Friday. Now, the kids can come down here every day and make sure they’re getting new books to take home at night.”

Shanor said she hopes the inclusion of a library and availability of books for the young kids at Poder Academy will help instill a love of reading among them.

“They’ll have memories. They’ll remember a cold, snowy day in their room – whether it’s here or at home – and they go in and get lost in that story,” Shanor said.

“They’ll remember that, and it will be a fond memory because it’s a comfort.”

Kristine Galloway is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s education reporter. She can be reached at kgalloway@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3184. Follow her on Twitter @KGalloway_WTE.

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