Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Special Day With The Children In Cuna Maya, Mexico & The Difference That Capstone Has Made

At the beginning of January, I had the honor of visiting the children, teachers, families and others in Cuna Maya, Mexico with several wonderful friends from Capstone.  
Cuna Maya is a small village in the jungle 20 miles southwest of Cancun.  It is very warm, beautiful and filled with wonderful families. 
Capstone has been volunteering and helping the people of Cuna Maya for the last six years as part of their national sales meeting in Mexico.  They have helped build and supply a library, classroom, medical clinic and girls dormitory on the property.
Within the village, they have raised money to build roofs on houses, donated and delivered basic household goods to families in need and sponsored community meals while they have been there each year.
And one of my favorite projects....they have build three Free Little Libraries for the village and fill them with new Capstone books each year as part of their visit.  
As Capstone's Facebook page states, this year Capstone's big initiative was to provide the children access to educational materials through technology.  
Pastor Mike, along with several young teachers, kicked off our day telling everyone how grateful they were for the help and friendship provided by Capstone throughout the years.
We stopped at the local shopping center and purchased items to make care packages to take to families.
Several of the volunteers helped make lunch for everyone including dozens of children and families that came to the educational center that day.
Capstone donated 1,200 new books to fill the Free Little Libraries and as soon as we put them into the libraries children were coming, taking books out and enjoying them so much.
They loved the Wearable Books from Capstone.  It was so much fun watching them try these out and it sure didn't matter that we didn't understand everything we were saying to each other.
I brought bracelets from Hagan and his friends as part of their Banding Together project to share with all of the children.
They loved the bracelets.  I couldn't wait to tell Hagan and the others who have contributed to this global project.
Eric was part of the crew that went out into the village to build a concrete floor for one of the families.
 The family was very thankful for this.
Through amazing support, Capstone raised enough money to donate 10 iPads, access to the internet and secure storage for the devices.  It was fun to watch a skit they created to tell the children the great news and explain how to use the technology properly.
They also provided Capstone digital products including PebbleGO and myON to the children of Cuna Maya.  The children loved watching as they showed how these products would work on the new iPads.
It was very special to watch Capstone employees like Todd Brekhus and....
Eric Fitzgerald show the children all of the exciting information and stories they would have access to.
 They couldn't wait for Andrea, who was our interpreter, to tell them even more.
As a teacher librarian, I loved seeing the children not only receive the digital resources, but also the books that would obviously bring them so much joy.
Eric has always told me how much this day and these people meant to him and so many at Capstone.
As I got to know the children....
 and watched all of the knowledge, resources and....
friendship shared on this day, I too was moved by the impact all of us can make by giving our time, hard work and love to others.
Capstone is doing something very special that will make a difference in the lives of the children and families in Cuna Maya, Mexico.  By giving them books, digital tools and resources, generosity and time, the employees at Capstone have started something that will give to everyone involved for years to come.

Eric and I cannot wait to see our friends in Cuna Maya again and hope to bring Hagan and our family there someday to meet them too.  The time that we spent with them made a difference in our lives and taught us things we won't forget.

Thank you Capstone for doing great things in Mexico and in so many schools and communities around the world.  It is very special to see how Bob Coughlan and Tom Ahern have empowered their employees to be part of this day and other volunteer opportunities throughout the year.  

As I said, you are definitely making a difference in so many ways.  

Friday, January 29, 2016

Join The Mackin TYSL Movement.....Together We Are Going To Transform School Libraries!

I am very excited about this new movement that is going to change school libraries, communities, education and the lives of so many.  It is called TYSL.
And this week as we kicked off TYSL or Transform Your School Library, with our friends at Mackin Educational Resources, I can feel the excitement moving as we gain momentum and knowledge of how we are going to make a difference together.
For our first meeting, we brought together the amazing TYSL Advocates which are teacher librarians, educators, administrators and leaders around the country.

You can read all about the TYSL Advocates here.
It was wonderful to hear these voices, along with the key leaders from Mackin including Randal and Kitty Heise.  We were all inspired as we listen to Randal talk about their passion for supporting libraries and education today and in the future.

This transformation is just beginning and it can't happen with just the people that make up the Advocate board or those at Mackin.  It has to happen with all of us.
Please visit TYSL and join us in making a difference.

We will be adding more information to the site soon and you will begin to hear our voice throughout the country at conferences, in articles and within other forums.
We want everyone to be part of the TYSL Movement.  The voices, work and collaboration that we bring together is what will lead to the change that will transform our school libraries.

Join the movement today.
We want to hear your stories of transformation and inspiration from the school library, so please follow TYSL on Twitter at @MackinTYSL and by using the hashtag #mackintysl

You Need To Add The "Cantata Learning" Blog To Your List Of Library & Education Must Read Blogs!

One of my favorite places to go to find new ideas, projects and resources is to blogs of our library, education and publisher friends.
I always learn so much by reading blogs like ones from the School Library Journal Blog Network,
Mackin's Books in Bloom blog (which you can read all about in this post I wrote),
 Scholastic's On Our Mind blog,
and Capstone Connect from Capstone Publishing.
And now there is one place that you must add to your "Must Read List" of blogs.....The blog on Cantata Learning's website!

It is really getting exciting here and there are lots of things being shared.
Under the Resources tab on their website you will find Activities, Announcements, Articles, Presentations, Reviews and Testimonials, Teaching Notes, Tools, Videos and more.  You can also search the Archive's which is always helpful on a blog.
As we kick off another year, having a new to-go place is the best......So don't forget to add Cantata Learning's blog to your list.  I know it is always one of mine!