Excitement was in the air as the faculty and staff of Benbrook Elementary School awaited the grand opening of their new library. Target, in partnership with the Heart of America Foundation, funded a total makeover for the school’s library. Volunteers from local Target stores put the finishing touches on the furnishings and shelved the last of the new books just moments before HISD Superintendent Terry Grier, Heather Cook from U.S. Rep. Ted Poe’s office and State Rep. Jessica Farrar joined the celebration.
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“When you can look across a big wonderful city like Houston and you can find corporate sponsors like Target who care, who care about the kids, who care about the communities in which their stores are located,” said Grier, “it just makes Houston a can-do, special kind of place.”
Target and the Heart of America Foundation have transformed 175 public school libraries across the country, and five of those have been HISD schools. They expanded the square footage of Benbrook’s library by tearing down walls and taking in rooms and closet space to create a light, inviting and engaging environment. They donated 2,000 books, 25 iPads, an iPad cart, four laptop computers, and an overhead projector and screen, giving the students, parents, and community a valuable resource for research, learning and growth.
“Once a month, I’m going to open up the library to my community.” explained Benbrook Elementary principal Dana Darden. “I want to start a literacy class for my parents. And my parents will have a chance to check out library books and come once a month to a class where they can learn English and how to work with their kids at home with their homework.”
Each of Benbrook Elementary’s 614 students received a backpack with supplies and seven books to take home to add to their home library.
The school’s new library will take Benbrook Elementary’s efforts in HISD’s Literacy By 3 Initiative to a new level. The resources now available and the library, in and of itself, mean a great deal to Darden, her students and teachers. “This is something my students really needed. Now it’s full of life,” Darden said. “We’re truly excited.”