The East St. John Elementary School library got a makeover recently, thanks to the efforts of The Heart of America Foundation and Capital One Bank. The national nonprofit group partnered with the bank as part of its READesign Reading Corner program, which aims to put books into the hands of children in low-income communities and to create safe, inviting libraries in their schools.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Heart of America and Capital One Bank. As superintendent of schools, I really, really appreciate the fact that you came in and totally redesigned this library,” Superintendent Herbert Smith said during the grand opening at the LaPlace school. “Now I can truly say we have a first-class library.”
As part of the READesign, East St. John’s library was repainted and inspirational quotes were added to the walls. New tables and chairs and some new shelving were also added and the library received more than 250 books to add to its collection. A new reading corner features soft seating for students, a reading rug and a rocking chair. Original artwork by Disney artist Cecilia Washington Carr was painted especially for East St. John’s library and the swamp scene includes the school’s bobcat mascot.
“It looks beautiful,” ESJE Principal Jerry Galloway said. “We’re so proud of everything.”
In addition to the books in the library, Capital One volunteers handed out two books to each student at the school to take home to add to their personal libraries.
“What’s really exciting for me to think about is all of these students – 600-plus students – going home with two books that will be a part of their library, and in many cases might be the first books that will start their personal library,” said Nancy Stich, Capital One district manager. “I truly believe that there is nothing more powerful that we can do to help our community and to help out students than to support their love of learning and support their love of reading.”
During the grand-opening events ESJE students Kaley Clayton and D’Andre Gonsoland were honored as Heroes of the Heart. Heroes of the Heart are students who represent the heart and soul of the school and who are seen as leaders and role models for younger students.
Representatives from Heart of American and Capital One performed site visits at St. John the Baptist Parish public schools in March and selected East St. John Elementary as the recipient for the makeover.
Students then contributed their ideas for what they would like to see in the design of their library.