Prior to the ribbon cutting, volunteers in red T-shirts ran back and forth, lifting tables and chairs, and touching up last-minute paint jobs to make sure everything in the Knollwood Elementary media center looked perfect.
Over the past several days, Target employees and members of the Heart of America Foundation had been working in the library and throughout the school. Now, the day had finally come to let everyone see the results of the makeover.
Cosette Gutierrez, Southeast regional manager of education and community relations for Target, said the school looked a little hectic because the volunteers were trying to finish their tasks in time for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“I think we’ve got over 150 volunteers divided up into different teams. There’s a team here that is putting together the books that the children will take home,” Gutierrez said pointing to the stage, which was filled with volunteersstuffing books into small tote bags.
Gutierrez said there will be 42 library makeovers
and eight in the Southeast, including Knollwood this fall. She said that Target works together with the Heart of America Foundation to identify the schools to make over.
“It’s primarily Title I schools. We’re going to finish 118 at the end of this year,” she said.
Knollwood Media Specialist Mary Nevil has been at the school for 16 years and said this is the first time the library has seen any significant improvements.
“The school has been open since 1956 and I think since the 1960s they’ve had this space and it has looked it; it was very old,” Nevil said.
Before the makeover, Nevil said she had a hard time seeing children because the bookshelves were so high. Now, the new shelves that line the room are much shorter. She said this would make her job easier.
“Kids would come in and I wouldn’t even know they were here and they’d do cartwheels behind the stacks. Now it’s great, I can see everything. There’s lots of room and it seems about three times bigger than it did before,” Nevil said.
The media center was also furnished with several computer workstations and 17 iPads for the students to use. Principal Sheila Hollins said Knollwood was chosen out of seven schools that applied for the makeover project.
“I can’t wait to see the students’ faces because they haven’t seen the media center since the end of school last year. It’s been closed off and they’ve been doing the remodeling,” Hollins said.
Target also donated 2,000 books to the library’s existing collection and Hollins said these changes would have a profound effect on the day-to-day lives and education of the students.
As children sat cross-legged on the floor in the library, Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson told those present that to be successful and compete in today’s world, children needed access to technology.
“We, as a society, are sending laptops to children in developing countries but children in our own schools don’t have the tools that they need to succeed,” Atkinson said.
“Part of ensuring success is by providing our students with the latest and greatest tools and technology to help them learn, achieve and grow,” said Atkinson.