Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Teacher creates home libraries for kids

To explain why she's so upset about losing Dave Hartzell,  Sterling Elementary Principal Beth Wardy points to The 40 Book Project.

I featured Hartzell,  who teaches fourth- and fifth-graders at Sterling,  in Sunday's story about teacher pay.  He and his wife,  a preschool teacher,  had their first child,  Calvin,  on Easter Sunday.  He's heartbroken to think he can't keep the job he loves and support his wife and child.

Hartzell with donated books

But Hartzell was just as eager to tell me about his quest to collect books so children at the high-poverty school in Pineville will have a collection of books at home. He proudly showed me to a storage room in the school library where shelves are lined with donations that range from picture books to the Harry Potter series.

He tried to match each collection to the child's interests. And he doesn't present the gift as an entitlement or a handout.  Instead,  he makes it a reward for something the child has accomplished  --  even when he has to look pretty hard for something to encourage.

So far Hartzell says he's sent home books with almost 250 students and collected about 15,000 books.  To learn more or donate,  check out his Facebook page or get his contact information from the school web site.

I'm not sure what kind of test scores Hartzell's kids get,  but it's this kind of extra effort that makes teachers the kind who change lives and are remembered for decades.  And I've heard principals and teachers say it's the kind of thing that gets sacrificed if teachers have to get second and third jobs to make ends meet.

In a similar vein,  after Sunday's story I got an email from a CMS elementary teacher who asked that I not print her name,  offering her own set of  "data"  to flesh out the picture:

One CMS teacher: the numbers

Age: 26
Number of years teaching: 2
Grade teaching: 3rd
Class size: 19
SAT score: 1470 (690 verbal, 780 math)
GRE score: 1350
National Rank of Undergraduate College: 10th
National Rank of Graduate School in Education: 6th
Praxis Score: 200/200
Students at school eligible for free and reduced lunch: 84%
Average number of hours spent working per week: 70+
Number of books bought out of pocket: 1500+
Birthday presents purchased: 19
Sick days taken: 0

Reading Data*

Students above grade level
Students on grade level
Students below grade level
Students more than 1 year below grade level

Average reading gains from October to April (6 months): 15.8 months growth

Salary of past profession (given up to teach): $75,000 annually + benefits
Current Salary: $38,955.80 + benefits (70-30 plan)

Number of hugs given (and received!) this year: 2,755+
% of races lost at recess: 100%
% of lunches eaten with students: 100%
Number of times inspired by coworkers: countless

Job Satisfaction: priceless

Number of years I can sustain this: ?


Larry said...

A Police Officer on the the job for a couple of years is making around 42 Thousand a year and that is year round.

Oh this might be of interest:



I could post the Actors and the like, but I guess it just shows what we value as a society more.

Anonymous said...

Excellent idea for these students and one that all teachers can use to develop knowledge and drive. Of course, it comes dangerously close to that usually highly effective process this reporter loathes-home schooling.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been a student in K-12 in 3 1/2 decades, but I don't recall any of my teachers supporting a family of 3 (including spouse) on one teacher's salary even then. Either the teacher lived alone or the spouse also held a job. Teacher's pay deserves to be raised some, but I would never count on raising a family on that one salary.

To the point of this article, his quest is a noble one. However, in this digital age, I have observed that having books at the home does not necessarily translate into more reading. That push to read often has to come from the parent, and if the child is encouraged to read at home, a school or public library can be sufficient. That being said, I have some books I will gladly donate to Mr. Hartzell's program.

Wiley Coyote said...


I get the intent of the analogy, but paying police officers, firemen or teachers $100,000 (insert your own number) per year isn't going to lower crime, stop fires or make kids learn any better.

The public school system is outdated, inefficient and wasting tax dollars. Until the system is fixed by allowing more competition where parents can send their kids wherever they choose, nothing will change.

Part of changing that system is the way teachers are compensated. Those who excel should make more money.

Simply throwing more money at public education hasn't worked for the past 40 years.

Larry said...

Wiley, you are I both agree, invest in results, not in promises.

Why have we not seen any thing other than bad results from CMS for all those trillions?

We have tried it their way for the last half century. Now try it where parents are responsible for their kids, and stop making schools an omnibus for dysfunctional families, and lack of bad parenting.

Schools should exist for Education. Take away sports and all the other fluff, make the schools work to deserve it being put back in.

Anonymous said...

I attended Sterling back in the late 70's, reading this article brought back some memories. I attended the school for two years before we were transferred over to Nations Ford. At that time, Sterling was located in the middle of a very poor community, from reading this story, it appears that is still the case. I was touched by reading about this particular teacher, I admire and respect him for trying to make a difference. I may consider donating some books to this teacher also.

Anonymous said...

I recently learned of a program used at a school in Michigan its referred as "flipped classroom" students view videos at home and due "homework "in the classroom learning improved . kids love it . cbs nightly news ran a segment. seems to make sense

Anonymous said...

10:41, a lot of schools around here are trying that, too. I wrote about it a couple of years ago. It does seem intriguing, though like anything has supporters and critics.

Anonymous said...

Both Wiley and Larry have a point with regards to some of the schools in CMS, particulary the west side. I think we can see whatever CMS is doing is not working with minority students and let's be honest, this is the issue. If we look at the CMS schools that serve a much less diverse or more affluent student population, they doing very well in comparison (the same can be said of charters by the way).Of course some parents will still find things to complain about and that is to be expected.

What I would suggest is that CMS actually extends an invitation to a company like Charter Schools USA to build schools in struggling urban communities on the west side. CMS can provide them funding to help pay for the new facilities. I think the time has come that CMS officials need to put their pride in their pocket. Personally I skeptical if charter schools are the answer, but it makes sense to try something new and bold rather than continuing down the same path and expecting better results.

Anonymous said...

Teaching in NC is a mistake. It's a place for people to get experience and move on. It's also good for prospective grad students whom are not sure what grad school they want to enter. That's why NC drops so much cash on TFA, teach charlotte, etc.. NC is not a place for career teachers. The Democrats did not support them and the Republicans are putting the nails in the coffin of professional teachers in NC. Talking about it is a waste of time. NC has had a teacher pay freeze since I moved here. I heard they had a long pay freeze in the 90's as well. Does any one know why? This is not a good place to be a teacher and it is only going to get worse. After the governors commission came up with nothing, I laughed. Did anyone think anything was going to happen. How many committees did Gorman have? Didn't Wake have a few committees? Its a typical political stalling tactic. Put it in committee and hope it dies off and goes away. The thing that bothers me is the turn over in schools. My sons schools teachers are always coming and going. When the great recession hit, we all took hits. My company is back on track and those that were loyal got pay increases and a patt on the back for our loyalty. Why is the Governor only giving raise to the new teachers? 2/3 of new teacher nation wide leave. Is 5000 dollars over 2 years for new teachers (which it still lower then the local and national market) going to change that? Why would raises not go to loyal teachers whom have rode out the storm for the last seven years? Why keep the storm going for them and reward the new guys? It seems like bad business to me. More to the argument that planning a teaching career in NC is folly. Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and even South Carolina is a better market.

Carol S. said...

be careful what you wish for...the flipped classroom relies on technology to teach the lesson, teachers will no longer be necessary. CMS will only need classroom monitors and an occasional teacher per grade level. Maybe teacher pay won't be as big of an issue then.

Anonymous said...

There has never been more people killed than " In the name of God " and there has never been more money wasted and lost with the statement "It's for the Children " !

Anonymous said...

As much as I pay for my son to play football to CMS and the high school, I think sports need to be privatized. The costs cant be as much as the hundreds of dollars I am paying now.

Larry said...

4:10 You forgot to include in the name of Allah.

And yes folks love hiding behind the children and taking away their future if it benefits those hiding.