Last month, Shawna Darcy, a sixth and seventh-grade language arts teacher at Twin Peaks Charter Academy in Longmont, received around 75 book donations for her classroom’s library from Erie, Broomfield, and Dacono residents.
After asking in a post to an Erie Colorado Facebook group, “What is one thing you cannot afford but NEED right now?” Darcy’s bookshelves are now full of popular novels her students can enjoy in and outside the classroom.
“The willingness of the community to donate popular literature to local middle schoolers blew me away,” Darcy wrote in an email. “I was hoping to add a few new titles for students to choose from, and instead was able to fill six bookshelves.”
Darcy said she commented on the Facebook post after realizing she would need new books at a higher reading level for her classroom’s library.
Darcy wrote she decided to quit her job at the beginning of the school year teaching first grade at Twin Peaks. Her husband has a compromised immune system and the first graders were not required to wear masks. She accepted a new job three weeks later at the same school to teach sixth and seventh grade.
“My entire classroom library was for the first-grade reading level, so I had to completely start over,” Darcy wrote. “I spent a lot of my own money to have two shelves of books, but my students kept requesting more.”
Darcy wrote in an email she asked for books for sixth and seventh graders with a specific request for the Harry Potter series and books by Rick Riordan, as they were the most popular among her students. According to Darcy, she was able to receive two complete sets of the Harry Potter series.
Darcy said the book donations were helpful to her as teachers spend a lot of their own money in their classrooms. She said she spent over $1,000 as a first-grade teacher on all the books and supplies her students needed.
“I was going to buy them either way because these kids are requesting these books and I want them to have them, so for people to donate them saves the teacher’s money,” said Darcy.
Darcy wrote she picked up most of the donations on Nov. 15 and her students were very excited to hear about all the books she received for their classroom. However, after Twin Peaks told staff on Nov. 19 that secondary school would remain remote until January, Darcy and her husband, Morgan Bowker, decided to deliver books so they could start reading them sooner.
“My husband is a retired, disabled veteran, so he has time during the day to make the deliveries,” Darcy wrote. “He has already been dropping books and packets off to students whose parents aren’t able to come to the school and pick them up. He’ll be the one dropping off most of the books for students, depending on how many deliveries we have.”
Darcy said she and her husband have delivered to five houses and will continue to do so if students need.
“I’m delivering these books to of course support the community, but it’s more to support these kids and show them that their community cares about them,” said Darcy. “Not only their teacher but I really emphasize, ‘These books were given to you by people that don’t even know you, to support you during this pandemic.’ We know you’re having a hard time, it’s not just your parents, it’s not just the adults, we know you’re having a hard time and we’re here to support you and we love you and we care about you.”