Friends of Landon plan media center makeover

Friends of Landon plan media center makeover
Members of Board of Directors of the Friends of Julia Landon College Preparatory School include: President Fay Patsourakis, General Counsel Bryan Gowdy, Fundraising Chairman Cindy Pearson and Vice President Emily Gideon.

The Media Center at Julia Landon College Preparatory School in San Marco is in dire need of a makeover, and to raise money to buy new books and furniture, a group of parents from the middle school has established a new 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, The Friends of Landon (FOL).

FOL is a similar organization to Friends of Hendricks, a non-profit organization started by Matt Carlucci of San Marco years ago to raise money to build a track at the Hendricks Avenue Elementary School. The Landon parents seek to provide additional funding to fill in gaps in the school’s budget to ensure it has the resources to equip its students “for a lifetime of academic and leadership success,” said Emily Gideon, FOL vice president.

“Landon has a history of raising up leaders. Friends of Landon wants to continue the legacy of leadership,” she said.

The initial goal of the Friends’ group is to ultimately raise $90,000 in three phases so the middle school’s antiquated library can be converted into a modern “Learning Commons,” said Cindy Pearson, FOL fundraising chairman.

The group’s first fundraiser, Landon Relays, will be an event similar to the Walkathon held by Hendricks Avenue Elementary each year. The relay event will be held Saturday, March 4 from noon to 6 p.m. on Landon’s track. The goal of the relays is to raise $15,000.

“FOL also plans to hold at least one “Spirit Night” at a local restaurant to raise money for new books,” said Pearson, noting the event would be held in January or February.

“The Friends of Landon was formed to address the needs the school has, and the first project is the media center,” said Pearson. “We anticipate we will continue (with other projects) after the media center is completed.”

During the past year, a subcommittee of the Landon School Advisory Council assessed the needs of the school’s media center and decided it needed a “change in culture,” Gideon said. “The committee’s goal is to change the culture of the Media Center from the outdated space where students merely checked out books to a space where they can research and collaboratively learn,” she said, noting that Landon’s Media Center has been “dormant for years” and no new books have been purchased for the library in more than a decade.

“What we want is a 21st century learning model that has been used across the country and is certainly being used on college campuses,” Gideon said. “Since Landon is a college preparatory middle school, we want to prepare our students for that aspect of learning.”

This year’s goal is to raise $30,000 purchase new furniture, tables and books as part of a first phase to create a “collaborative learning environment” at the school, said Gideon. “If additional funds are available after the completion of the first phase, then we will fund individual grant requests by the teachers,” she said.

Included in the first phase is the removal of outdated and under-grade-level books from the shelves of the Landon library. The purchase of new counter-height tables that seat six with a large flat screen monitor at the end so students can connect with their devices will enhance the space. Trading soft chairs in the place of the hard ones, which are there now, will expand the seating options by allowing the new chairs to be moved around to create “collaborative spaces” for learning, she said. FOL would also like to replace the center’s desktop computers with a cart of laptops that can be used in small-group collaborations. To pay for the counter-height tables, chairs and monitor at least $10,000 must be raised, she said.

The second and third phases, at $30,000 per phase, will address technology concerns and upgrades within the Learning Commons by adding a laptop cart, iPads, and a Nureva interactive wall.

Already FOL has submitted a grant requesting $5,000 to purchase two chairs with tablet arms and two armless lounge chairs as well as 71 new fiction books, graphic novels and biographies, Gideon said. A team of FOL parents has spent more than 128 hours to remove the outdated and lower grade level books from the shelves, she said.

Principal Tim Feagins is committed to the success of the project and has a plan in place to allocate times during the day students can check out books, she said.

“The goal of the Library Commons is to engage students in a collaborative, innovative environment serving as an extension of the classroom to inspire creativity, curiosity, critical thinking and lifelong learning,” Gideon said. “Similar to dressing for success, by changing the aesthetics of the space, we hope to change its function to engage students for advanced learning in a multisensory environment.”

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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