Student Reading

Elementary Library to STEAM Timeline

Prior to 2018, students in our elementary schools had “Library” one day a week for 45 minutes as part of their weekly Specials.  This time included a mini-lesson, usually around a book, connections to classroom content, or work around research and writing utilizing technology.  That time was also available for students to look at books and choose those that were interesting to bring back to the classroom or to bring home.

With the adoption of Next Generation Learning Standards for Science and the modifications to upcoming NYS Science assessments, it was crucial to include additional time for Science and Engineering practices for our students.  In June 2018, RCS made the transition from weekly library time to regular Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM) instruction.   With the challenges of finding and hiring certified Library Media Specialists, it was an opportune time for RCS to make this transition.

It was valuable for students to still have access to the books in our school libraries, therefore school administrators were able to create Book Exchange times for students to come to the library and check-out books.  Unfortunately, this changed during the COVID pandemic.  Due to restrictions around schedules, space usage, the sharing of materials, and other limiting factors, the school libraries were not utilized for much of the pandemic.  This was true for many of our Specials, including STEAM.

In the 2020-21 school year, we were able to begin STEAM again and Book Exchange; however, it was not at full capacity as it was in pre-COVID years.  We noticed that general support around the management of our libraries was needed.  In November 2021, we were able to have our Middle School Librarian, Ms. Gollop, begin supporting our elementary libraries.

Concerned Voices & Short-Term Solutions

During the 2021-22 school, families and staff members began vocalizing concerns about the libraries' lack of use.  School administrators brought the concern to schools’ Building Leadership Teams (BLTs) to consider “out-of-the-box” solutions to encourage book exchange.  In addition to the classroom book collections that were already in place, we began having discussions around volunteer support for this time and, ultimately, decided to try a combination of online ordering, classroom deliveries, and times for exchange.

As we continue to emerge from COVID, we wanted to make sure that teachers, who continued to maximize every moment for instruction, were able to have a low-stress option in allowing students to do Book Exchange.  Ms. Buckley, our instructional technologist, visited many rooms to show students and teachers how to use the online system.

Available books have been one challenge in our online ordering system and that is something that RCS is committed to fixing.

Long-Term Solution and Improvements

Through our budget process this past Spring, the voters approved a shared Library Media Specialist for our elementary schools.  We are excited to begin a move back towards times of Book Exchange and the utilization of such a great school community resource.  We believe that the addition of a staff member to support the libraries and build connections for students and staff to literature will only add to our goal of getting all kids to enjoy reading!

The elementary school library is just one aspect of our district’s approach to promoting the love of reading.  We are simultaneously looking at ways to support classroom libraries and Little Free Libraries at our schools.  Elementary teachers spend between 90 and 120 minutes daily on English Language Arts (ELA) teaching about the foundations of reading, writing, and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.  We are excited to think of the additional ways our librarian will be able to support this work!

Principals continue to work with BLTs and shared decision committees on how to best schedule time for our students to utilize the library. If you have any thoughts or feedback, please feel free to reach out to your child’s principal. We look forward to a wonderful 2022-23 school year with an increased love of reading!

Principal Contact Information: 

A.W. Becker Principal
Debra Neubart
(518) 756-5200 ext. 5000

Pieter B. Coeymans Principal
Hakim Jones 
(518) 756-5200 ext. 4000