by Darcy Coffta, Berwick Academy
We all have so many demands on our time, that you might find yourself asking, “Why should our school enter the Follett Challenge?” I felt the same way, but then you think about how much there is to gain and you just have to go for it!
Entering the Follett Challenge allowed us to share our story of the Berwick Innovation Center on a national stage. We collaborated with librarians, teachers, students and administration to create a video that represented the key elements of our program. We highlighted how the library was the central component and crucial to the success of the Innovation Center, because librarians are just so good at coming up with new ideas and being resourceful! So, not only could other schools, teachers, and librarians view our video, but we watched several others too. We gained so many new ideas and learned what amazing programs are happening across the country (and across the globe for that matter) as there were international entries.
The sharing of knowledge was incredible. It created an instant network of educators who were able to suddenly communicate what they were doing and allowed us to make connections that otherwise would not have been possible. Personally, I felt a strong sense of validation, too! I mean, we all know what we do is important and that it matters and that we can create positive change for our kids, but to have a panel of experts say, “Yes, your program should be recognized,” was so rewarding.
So, by taking a chance and entering the Follett Challenge and by spending some time on our video submission and application, we were fortunate enough to win third prize, which has allowed us to add resources to our library that would never have been possible. We are adding eBooks and databases that will permit our students to push the levels of their research and expand the scope of their projects to places that we just could not go before. Winning has also opened the door to other funding opportunities, so it is well worth the time investment.
I would encourage all schools that are doing truly innovative programming to enter! Not only can you share your story, but you have the chance to win substantial resources for your students, and when it comes right down to it, it’s all about giving kids everything possible they need to succeed.