I really believe if a person learns to read well and comprehend what they read, they can be successful as a student and an adult. Reading is the most important skill to master," said Pat Armstrong, media specialist at the Storm Lake High School.
As National Library Week is observed, this week, we take a look at what SLHS has to offer to high school students and to the public. the library, Armstrong said, serves as the hub of the school; most every student will walk through the doors of the room and leave with more knowledge than when they entered.
The library is furnished with computers, newspapers, magazines to meet the interests of most everyone and shelves and shelves of books to check out for enjoyment as well as for information.
"The high school does a fabulous job of meeting the needs and preparing the students for the future," Armstrong said.
She pointed out that reading is no longer something learned only in the lower grades - reading is stressed throughout the secondary years of school as well. Storm Lake High School has implemented several reading programs including a drop everything and read program which allows 20 minutes of "free" reading the same time of day every day of the school week.
"Research shows that the importance of reading," Armstrong said. "The more you read, the better you get."
Because of this, a group of teachers introduced the idea to the administrators, who wholeheartedly approved the idea. Students get so busy, she said, and don't always have the time to sit down and read for strictly enjoyment. This program takes care of that need. Students are encouraged to read non-fiction books at this time.
Armstrong also sponsors the Challenge Book Club. Several students are involved in the program. If the students read 15 books from December to May, they will receive a t-shirt and their name goes into a drawing for a one hundred dollar bill! Though not required, the students have taken it upon themselves to write short reviews on the books they read. Armstrong posts the reviews which are read by other students. This process gives other students the opportunity to see others' opinions of the book; if the review is good, they may consider reading the book themselves and if not, they may decided to skip reading it.
The Challenge Book Club has been a fun program for Armstrong and the students.
The support of the administrators is awesome and technology in the high school library is kept up. Besides the many computers available for use during the school day, the library also has six lap top computers available for check-out. The lap tops computers are most always in use.
"The teachers are good about using the library," Armstrong said, commenting that many teachers bring their students into the library.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the job is to order books for the library shelves. This year, Area Educational Agency 8 has provided the school with many, many dollars to order books, as well as the dollars earmarked in the budget for the library. If the students cannot find the book they are looking for on the SLHS shelves, Armstrong tries to locate it. Many books are "borrowed" from the public library as well as from Buena Vista University library.
She also enjoys the students who come in to use the library and the chance to get to know each of the students.
Armstrong, who has been nominated for the Siouxland Alumni Teacher of the Year by the Regional Center for Teaching and Learning at Morningside College, loves her job. "It's the perfect job," she said. "Who wouldn't love working with kids and books."