Grand Rapids first-graders surprised with new books

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Jean Estebez-Figueroa, a first-grade teacher from Southwest Community Campus elementary school in Grand Rapids, was surprised with an entire library of books for her classroom.

Estebez-Figueroa is one of six area teachers who are receiving hundreds of library books as part of the Classroom Library Book Grant program in the College of Education at Grand Valley State University.

Faculty members Sheryl Vlietstra and Megan Freudigmann came up with the idea of seeking a grant as a way to help new teachers build their classroom libraries. “New teachers are excited to land their first job,” said Vlietstra. “They arrive with lots of energy and great ideas but often find there are no materials to help them teach. It can take new teachers several years of personal spending to develop a functional classroom library.”

The first-grade students were excited to begin to read some of the books. Estebez-Figueroa read a story about a lion which called for the students to roar at the end.

Other teachers receiving classroom books include:
* Katie Lett from Bowen Elementary School in Kentwood
* Beth Ruhlman from West Godwin Elementary in Wyoming
* Tim Zinger from Lincoln Park Elementary-Mona Shores in Norton Shores
* Jamie Sanborn from Pathfinder Elementary School in Fremont
* Christina Brown from Coloma Middle School in Coloma

The Classroom Library Book Grant program was awarded a $2,500 Meemic Foundation for the Future of Education grant in February to help support the development of resources for new teacher classroom libraries. The program is open to alumni who began their elementary teaching careers within the last three years and who are teaching in underserved districts in the greater Grand Rapids area.