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Lab-O-Rama: Teachers and librarians and school supplies, OH MY!

As a Cal Poly student, I’m pretty accustomed to seeing teachers out and about on campus. The last thing I expected to see, though, when I walked into Kennedy Library’s lobby last Tuesday was my little brother’s fourth grade teacher.

“Mr. Smith!” I exclaimed. “What are you doing here?”

“Victoria!” he said in reply. “We’re here to get free stuff!”

As Kennedy Library’s new public programs student assistant, I was there to cover the very same “free stuff” event that Mr. Smith was attending. (That’s him, above, showing off his school supply finds during Lab-O-Rama.)

Photo of teacher stocking up on math supplies at Kennedy LibraryLibrarians!
Last week, Cal Poly played host to school teachers from around the county as well as teachers-in-training, and as part of the festivities, the library, along with the Liberal Studies Department and School of Education, arranged a sort of yard sale of school materials and science kits for the teachers to take back with them to use in the fall, called “Lab-O-Rama.” The library is keeping one of every science kit, and the extras go to needy classrooms around the county. Here, Teacher Bill Tindula stocks up on math supplies.

The idea was to help Kennedy Library get rid of older materials in time to receive updated school materials in 2013, as well as help out local teachers who are facing budget constraints, said Jeanine Scaramozzino, librarian for the College of Science and Mathematics, School of Education and Data and GIS Services.

“With the budget being so bad, a lot of teachers in general can’t afford to buy things for their own class,” Scaramozzino told me.

Photo of teacher with raffle ticket.School Supplies, Oh My!
Lab-O-Rama itself, set up on the second floor of the library, looked like a teacher’s paradise. Huge tubs of geology kits, calculators and play money were arranged on each table. Every teacher’s name was entered into a drawing, then chosen at random to pick out items like calculator class sets.

Even with the wealth of supplies, in less than 30 minutes, it looked as if a swarm of knowledge-hungry locusts had raided the library, leaving only a few bins of building blocks and a heat lamp.

The event was priceless to public school teachers who often have to leave behind all their school supplies at the end of the year, Santa Rosa Academic Academy 2nd grade teacher Merry Reynolds told me.

“I tend to be in a different classroom each year so you kind of inherit what comes in the classroom,” Reynolds said.

Photo of teacher with science kits and storage bins from Kennedy Library.This year, though, Reynolds’ second graders will be able to learn with geology kits, play money and much more. Reynolds even got a few extra storage bins, which are priceless in helping her keep her classroom organized. That’s her on the left, with her new science kits and storage bins.

The whole event left me with a warm fuzzy feeling, and not just because I recognized a few familiar faces. Every teacher there, it seemed, came up to Scaramozzino before leaving and thanked her enthusiastically, and just knowing that these supplies are going to be enriching the education of local kids is enough to put a smile anyone’s face.

Victoria Billings