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When asked about a time when a book opened a new world for children, Mrs. Hand lights up.
“I read my favorite book, ‘The One and Only Ivan,’ to a class of third graders,” said Mrs. Hand, referring to a Newberry award-winning novel by Katherine Applegate about a captive gorilla who lives in a shopping mall. “Only after we finished did the children discover that Ivan was a real gorilla.”
The novel set the students on a journey of exploration. They researched gorillas, watched video footage of the real Ivan, discovered Coco, the gorilla that uses sign language, and learned about the intelligence of gorillas.
“This book helped children think about animals—and how humans treat animals—in a very different way,” said Mrs. Hand.
Mrs. Hand has been an elementary educator for over a decade and has worked with students on all elementary grade levels. Some parents may remember her from when she taught at KES over the past two years as the leave replacement for Mrs. Forde, in third grade, and Mr. Vetere, in second grade.
“I am so excited to have an opportunity to work with students of all ages and abilities and support each one of them develop the skills to be life-long learners and lovers of reading,” said Mrs. Hand.
Each class visits the library weekly. They will start the year with lessons focused on internet safety and digital citizenship as well as how to locate resources throughout in the library, including books of interest. All students use the Dewey Decimal system, and students in the upper grades will become adept at using the digital catalog to locate books.
“I look forward to continuing the tradition of working with fifth graders to produce ‘Good Morning, KES,’ said Mrs. Hand, referring to the school’s morning show broadcast to every classroom. “This rite of passage for fifth graders affords them the opportunity to provide leadership by sharing news and events taking place within our school community. It’s an important part of our school culture,” said Mrs. Hand.
“I have a vision of extending the program beyond the four walls of the library,” said Mrs. Hand. “Information is readily available in so many places, and children should learn how to access it through a variety of digital and print sources. I intend for the library to be an active learning environment for students to engage in their learning. With this in mind, I plan to introduce a ‘Maker Space’ and on-going communication with teachers so that the research conducted during the library period is relevant to the content being studied in the classroom.”
Mrs. Hand knows from experience that placing the right book in the hands of a resistant reader can be life changing. She found out about ‘The One and Only Ivan’ because it was the first book that engaged her daughter and sparked a genuine interest in reading. Among the books she recommends are “I Want My Hat Back” by Jon Klassen, for younger children, and the fantasy series Gregor the Overlander and Harry Potter for older, more sophisticated readers.
Mrs. Hand lives locally with her family, which includes her two children: Molly, in seventh grade, and Michael, in tenth grade. The newest member of the Hand family is Brooklyn, their 10-week-old puppy.