The library of the Carroll Academy for International Studies in Houston is the winner of the 2009 Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award for Exemplary Humanities Programming. The award is sponsored by the American Library Association Cultural Communities Fund and the National Endowment for the Humanities in cooperation with the American Association of School Librarians. It was presented in July at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago and consists of a $4,000 cash award, a plaque, and the promotion of the winner as a model program for other school libraries.
The Carroll Academy Library for International Studies runs a series of humanities lessons each year that integrates the school’s magnet lessons on International Studies with the curriculum. The library strives to educate the students about other cultures in order for the students to better understand themselves, others, and their place in the world. Some of the programs were developed to help provide a culminating activity to the unit of study for the magnet program at Carroll while enriching the student’s visual and artistic experiences. In addition, many of the programs were developed to emphasize right brain thinking skills and to reinforce skills taught in the classroom.
Sally Rasch, librarian at Carroll Academy, developed and submitted the winning program, entitled “Learning about the World with a Global Perspective.” Working with the Carroll Academy’s curriculum requirements on International Studies, the library’s “Learning about the World” program gave students an expanded global knowledge through the creative, hands-on study of world regions, languages, governments and the immigration experience. Throughout the school year, students participated in geography lessons, storytelling and music activities, mock world council meetings, book-themed school parades and an immigration simulation.
“Carroll Academy’s project integrated many different facets of cultures around the world, including activities about people, ecology, immigration, literature, opera and world organizations,” said Lisa Hathcock, chairperson of the Jaffarian Award selection committee. “The humanities activities were designed so that there was strong student participation with an emphasis on right brain thinking and were differentiated so many different learning styles were addressed.”
The mock world council meeting was held in November of the 2007-2008 school year. The students studied various world organizations that work together to solve the world’s problems. For the meeting, each class selected a country from a region that they studied earlier in the school year. The class then focused on a particular country in depth, including the ecological and environmental concerns of that country.
Next, they decorated a chair to represent their country. The chairs were set up in the library as seats on the council. A report on a specific world problem was attached to each chair and students toured the council learning about how the problem not only affects America but also other countries. The goal was for the students to recognize that we are all connected in the world.
For the immigration simulation, the library was turned into a custom’s house. In the classroom, the students were studying the movement of goods and people. Each class was asked to select a country that they then researched to better understand its people. They were then asked to pack a suitcase of what they would want to bring from that country if they immigrated to the USA, and each student filled out a passport prior to coming to the library for their tour.
When they entered the library, signs and other decorations were used to create the environment. The signs included information about what was allowed to pass through customs. A luggage carrousel was set up in the library where the suitcases were placed and as part of the tour, the students’ suitcases were examined to see what would pass inspection. They also explained to the library staff why they brought particular items from their home country. After this activity, the students presented their passport and the class then toured the center looking at the remaining suitcases and comparing what they had brought with what others had brought from their country.
These are just two examples of the humanities lessons taught by the library during the school year. Clearly the Carroll library is the center of learning for the Carroll Academy for International Studies. It is an open and inviting learning center where students are encouraged to expand their universe through books and projects while achieving to the very best of their abilities. By the end of the school year, Carroll students were more aware of the world around them and their role in it.