Salem teacher receives community boost to expand classroom library



When Kalia Flocker’s second grade students started school at Lamb Elementary this fall, she noticed most of them were reading well late. She turned to crowdfunding to get books to their level and said they are now progressing rapidly.

Teacher Kalia Flocker holds books she bought for her classroom library at Lamb Elementary on September 28, 2021 after a crowdfunding campaign. (Rachel Alexander / Salem Reporter)

Kalia Flocker has spent years creating her classroom library for students at Lamb Elementary School. But when she met her sophomores at the start of the school year, she realized she didn’t have the best books to help them learn to read.

Flocker, who taught at Northeastern Salem Primary School for five years, said his students returning in person mostly read at kindergarten level due to disruptions to their education during the Covid pandemic.

“We knew that having half our time in class and half of it online was only going to have an impact on the students who were very young, but we put their health first because I think that’s the most important, ”said Flocker, referring to last spring when the district ran hybrid courses online and in person.

She considered looking for money in the school supplies fund to buy books for them and paying the balance out of her own pocket. But Flocker had seen other teachers raise funds through crowdfunding and decided to give it a try.

“Normally I only have a few kids who read this low, so I don’t have a ton of kindergarten level books. I need to get more so that my students can have books they can read on their own and find confidence and success, ”Flocker said in a video she posted to GoFundMe on September 18.

Flocker expected that she could raise $ 20 from the website. She shared the fundraiser on her Facebook page.

Within hours, she said people had contributed $ 250, her original goal. She increased the request to $ 500 and raised $ 520 in 24 hours, which enabled her to purchase over 80 new books for her class.

“It was completely shocking how generous people were,” she said.

Flocker’s students are not alone.

Lamb’s principal Cherice Cochrane said when the school looked at students’ reading scores in classroom assessments in the spring, they found that year’s second-grade class was the furthest behind.

Cochrane speculated that’s because the class has had every year of school disrupted by Covid so far.

“These are the kids they left at the start of their kindergarten year and came back late in their first year,” she said. When classes resumed in person in the spring, “It was also only two days a week in person due to the hybrid schedule. So I think it has a lot to do with it.

Similar patterns across the district have led district administrators to allocate a significant portion of federal Covid relief funds – $ 6.9 million this year – to hiring 54 additional teachers to enable smaller classrooms in the city. kindergarten to grade two, said Suzanne West, district strategy director. initiatives.

“Our concern was that we would have a lot of kids entering kindergarten and first grade who may have never been in a school environment, a physical school environment,” West said. “We felt that we really needed to make an effort to reduce class sizes at the primary level. “

In Lamb, Cochrane said the review of the data led her to hire another second-grade teacher using the extra funding so teachers like Flocker have smaller classes and can focus on helping children. to catch up.

Most of the books purchased by Flocker are from the “Danny” series, a collection of short educational books for early readers who follow the adventures of Danny, a friendly yellow Labrador.

The books cover a variety of reading levels and follow Danny’s adventures as he celebrates Halloween, visits a castle, and meets other canine friends.

She was also able to buy some books for the school library.

“I’m just super excited. I didn’t have as many books that they could just pick up and read, and they would pick them up and just say, “Can I bring these four to my office?” Flocker said.

Since setting up the fundraiser, Flocker said she has seen a substantial improvement in her students’ reading levels. Many, she said, remember words and concepts they would normally have mastered in first grade, so they quickly cover material they’re behind on.

Now, she said, their reading goes beyond simple “visual words” – basic words that children learn to recognize without uttering them.

“What I see in class right now is that they catch words so quickly. Today they were reading, as I wrote, my goal for the lesson, ”said Flocker.

Flocker and Cochrane said the response to the fundraiser shows them people are looking for ways to support schools right now. Both urged people to contact their local schools or community partners already working with schools to see what needs are not being met.

“The community is in dire need of support and sometimes, if you don’t know exactly where, it shows up more sporadically,” Flocker said. “What stood out was how quickly people responded and wanted to donate. “

Teacher Kalia Flocker holds books she bought for her classroom library at Lamb Elementary on September 28, 2021 after a crowdfunding campaign. (Rachel Alexander / Salem Reporter)

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

JUST THE FACTS, FOR SALEM – We report to your community with care and depth, fairness and precision. Receive local news that interests you. Subscribe to Salem Reporter starting at $ 5 per month. Click on I want to subscribe!



Leave A Reply