Books! What an amazing gift. Not only from one of the world’s best-selling authors, but from a dedicated teacher in Tewksbury, Massachusetts.
Danielle MacDonald has been a teacher for 20 years, inspiring children from kindergarten to fifth grade and those with special needs to embrace the love of learning. She’s not only a gifted educator but a wife, mother of three girls and an outdoor enthusiast who’s always seeking out new adventures. Coupling that with her passion for helping others, she took a chance on the James Patterson Scholastic Book Club Grant and won.
“When I saw the opportunity to apply for this grant, I just couldn’t pass it up,” said MacDonald. “With COVID hitting schools and families so financially hard I knew I could do some good with this.”
MacDonald built her grant essay around her love for literary classics including Swiss Family Robinson, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Secret Garden, Frankenstein, War of the Worlds, and Treasure Island just to name a few. But she didn’t stop there. The inspirational vision she shared in her application earned her $500 dollars to build a class library that would spark the same literary enthusiasm in her students that she felt as a child.
In its fifth year, this grant collaboration between James Patterson and Scholastic has helped thousands of teachers build classroom libraries for their students. This year Patterson and Scholastic are gifting $500 and 500 points to 5,000 teachers with Mr. Patterson spending over $2.5 million dollars of his personal money.
But MacDonald took her winning grant to the next level.
In addition to building her class library at Clyde Reeves Elementary School in Woburn, MA, she stretched the dollars to include the entire school and including students with special needs, learning disabilities and those whose families are financially challenged, especially in light of the pandemic.
“I knew there were many families who couldn’t even get their children to the local library to borrow a book,” said MacDonald. “So many of those families were also currently unemployed and purchasing a book to read for their assigned class novel would be further impossible.”
She worked with her principal to ensure each teacher would be given a share knowing so many of them spent their hard earned salary on their students.
“By sharing what I have been graciously gifted I can show them that I appreciate all they do,” she said. “And with any money left over, we targeted children who are desperately in need of a book in their hand, a classic of their own to cherish and get lost in as I once had.”
Knowing how important it is to instill the love of reading early in a child’s life, MacDonald and her fellow educators wanted each child to experience the same joy they’d felt having books of their own.
“I know how hard my colleagues work and this small token will help them to pay it forward with their students allowing them to plant deep roots in each child’s love for reading,” she said. “Children love getting presents so the idea of surprising them with free books that I could hand select especially for them was a dream come true.”
Image Courtesy of Danielle MacDonald