Christian Education

Ruth Hill retires media specialist


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It made hundreds of students at Ruth Hill Elementary School successful, and the school library is now named after the media scholar who dreamed it up.

The Anne Graner Launch Pad Library was inaugurated in a celebration of Graner’s years at Ruth Hill, which ended with the 2020-21 school year as she announced her retirement.

“I am delighted to have time to spend with my family and to revisit the activities and passions of the past,” said Graner, who counts storytelling, pottery, yoga dancing, filmmaking among these passions. and travel. “I want to revisit them to see what spark is there now and see what’s ready to unfold into something new. It will be a journey of discovery!

Graner has taken Ruth Hill’s students on a similar journey of discovery since joining the staff as a Media Specialist in 2016. She was selected in 2017 by Ruth Hill Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for Coweta County Teacher of the Year 2017.

The birth of the Launch Pad library

In 2018, she began transforming the school library into a multidisciplinary learning space and program – the “Launch Pad Library”, which she envisioned as a way to better serve her students.

“We think the old type of library isn’t helping our kids,” Graner said at the time. “We think it’s much better for them to be in an environment where they can explore what interests them.”

Thus came out the traditional configuration. The books were organized by subject and placed in “learning portals” and the library was equipped with equipment such as musical instruments, recording and video equipment, a sewing machine, toys and tools. construction, a 3D printer and specialized computer programs. Community and business leaders attended an open house to learn about the new business, and many became enthusiastic volunteers and sponsors.

Students wrote project proposals in areas of interest to them, but there was a catch: to be approved, their projects had to benefit others. Early projects included sewing pads for their autism program classmates, restless toys for those who had difficulty concentrating in class, and designing and printing 3D items to sell as a collection of gifts. fund for a local charity.

‘Side trips’ helped shape the career

While Graner followed a traditional path to education, his “high school trips” also helped shape his career, which began in 1979 at an elementary school in DeKalb County. She was strongly influenced by her mother, who taught in a one-class school in an African village.

“When I first walked into a classroom as a student teacher, I knew I was home,” Graner said.

She has trained volunteers for the Georgia Council on Child Abuse and trained educators to teach writing, and has taught all levels and a variety of subjects in public, private and Montessori schools.

Additionally, Graner is a Certified Life Coach, Documentary and Videographer, Professional Storyteller, and Creative Movement and YogaDance teacher. She has volunteered with adults with disabilities, served on educational advisory committees, and been involved in Christian education, outreach, worship, health and healing programs.

“Everything I learned in these different arenas, I incorporated to make learning fascinating for my students,” Graner wrote in a teacher of the year essay. “Every once in a while, taking time off teaching to learn new skills has helped me stay fresh and connected to real world issues. ”

She said her experiences led her to envision a school library not only as a “repository for books” but rather as a “dynamic multimedia learning environment where students create content and go beyond walls. from school “.

From “chronic failure” to today

At Ruth Hill Elementary – a school with a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students – this was especially important. Based on the results of the 2016 standardized tests and the CCRPI, Ruth Hill was placed on the list of “Chronic Failure Schools” by the Georgia Department of Education and was identified as “the most successful school. difficulty ”of the Coweta County school system.

By the time Ruth Hill made Georgia’s list, a long-term improvement plan was already in place. The plan included additional staff and support, before and after school and weekend tutoring, flexible instruction time, and parent-teacher academic teams.

“We knew our kids weren’t making the progress we wanted, and that allowed us to focus more on what we were doing in the classroom,” Principal Aaron Corley said at the time.

Students and their families also benefited from the innovative and hands-on learning programs at the Launch Pad Library, which offered several different approaches to connecting classroom work to the real world. Staff made home visits to their students and got to know families in the community, and Graner led a bookmobile-like effort to get books into the hands of students without access to reading materials in the summer. .

By the end of 2017, Ruth Hill’s students had made significant gains in all areas of the Milestones tests and the school was taken off the “Chronic Failure List”.

As the Launch Pad library has grown and evolved, other efforts have developed around it. In 2019, Graner helped Ruth Hill students research community issues, and the students chose homelessness and its effects on children as the focus of a service project called “Sweet Dreams”.

In October of the same year, Ruth Hill enlisted the help of the community to complete a 16-day challenge of filling 100 bags with a new stuffed animal, blanket and paperback, as well as drying washcloths. quick and travel toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap. The fifth graders packed their bags and many items were donated by community members and businesses.

The students distributed the bags to non-profit organizations, public security services and educational institutions. The recipients included Bridging the Gap, One Roof, CASA, Newnan Fire Department, Newnan Police Department, Coweta Sheriff’s Office, the McKinney-Vento Liaison Office for Homeless Children at Coweta County Schools and the Ruth Counselor’s Office. Hill.

Graner entered the project as part of an Atlanta radio station giveaway contest, calling the idea of ​​winning “a pipe dream,” but Ruth Hill won the grand prize of $ 10,000.

Start Ms. Graner to retire

But it’s the day-to-day interactions that the students – and Graner will miss.

Class after class, they dropped into the Launch Pad library on Friday, May 21 to offer flowers, songs, homemade cards and farewell gifts to their media specialist. One class even spelled “GRANER” with index cards, naming an adjective for each letter.

Colleagues and family members lured her outside under the guise of taking pictures, and Corley surprised Graner by revealing a brass plaque that read “Welcome to the Anne Graner Launch Pad Library, dedicated to Spring 2021”.

Friends and colleagues from all walks of Graner’s life joined in the celebration via video to also celebrate his retirement. Corley praised her passion and ability to provide students with experiences at Ruth Hill that they couldn’t get anywhere else.

“You’ve done so much in such a short time,” said Corley, who thanked her for “doing everything for the students.”

“We know that you will continue to make an impact on the community and the world around you, just as you did in Ruth Hill,” he added. “We know you are going to do amazing things.”

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