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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Library awarded for collaboration with city, schools

By Lindsay Starr Platt, Harker Heights Evening Star

The Stewart C. Meyer Harker Heights Public Library is the winner of the Texas Library Association “Libraries Change Communities Award.” The Harker Heights Library collaborated with Skipcha Elementary and many of the City of Harker Heights departments when they worked together forming Kids Summer Leadership Academy in July 2014.

The Texas Library Association has honored and recognized excellence in librarianship and contributions to Texas libraries through awards presented annually at the Texas Library Association spring conference. The “Libraries Change Communities Award” is given to a community that with collaborative effort recognizes the positive achievements and promotes the library based initiatives in Texas. The “Libraries Change Communities Award” knows that a community’s efforts that affect people’s lives for the better is what helps define it.

“The Harker Heights Library in sincerely honored to have won the  “Libraries Change Communities Award” from the Texas Library Association,” said Lisa Youngblood, director, Stewart C. Meyer Harker Heights Library. “We are so positive to have working relationships with our schools and city officials, allowing us to work on this collaborative effort.”

The Stewart C. Meyer Harker Heights Public Library is lucky to have formed excellent partnerships with area schools. Skipcha Elementary principal contacted the library director Lisa Youngblood about service projects at the library, that the students could help with.  Youngblood knew Harker Heights was a city filled with opportunities for creativity, service, and leadership.

“We wanted to give the children of this city a sense of community and what ‘servant leadership’ is in the real world. Skipcha Elementary had a whole other program for this project as well. We are very excited about this program and are doing it again this year,” commented Youngblood.

This camp the Kids Summer Leadership Academy consisted of two parts: morning community service tours and projects and afternoon activities and discussions at the school. The Harker Heights Library planned visits to various city departments and set up interviews with servant leaders. Many of these servant leaders had service projects for the children could do.

“I recruited area teenage leaders to act as mentors and role-models throughout the academy, and provided the community with several student led story-time programs. These students planned and presented puppet plays, wrote and presented their own book about community service, and planned, prepared, and presented a related craft from recycled or available items,” said Youngblood.

The Harker Heights Library then reached out to recently graduated Harker Heights High School students who had been a part of the Harker Heights High School and City of Harker Heights, “Knights of the Round Table” group . These young leaders served as guides and mentors for the ongoing service projects. The library contacted the Harker Heights Police Department, the fire department, the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department, the municipal courts, and the administration department and was able to set up tours for the students to attend. From the mayor to the parks and recreation director, including city employees that were involved in this project, students were able to see that leadership has many facets and there are many opportunities for education, information, and recreation available in our area. The student were even able to attend a ‘mock trial’ set up by the municipal judge.

Student were divided up in three groups for their service projects. One group presented puppet plays to area children. Another group used available materials at the library to make a craft. The last group used the information they learned in interviews to write their own book about leaders of our city. That book is currently being published as an e-book, that will available for check-out to all elementary schools in our area.
“With the guidance of librarians, volunteers, and teachers, these students presented storytime programs including a child-written puppet play and book to forty children and thirty adults,” said Youngblood “Most exciting, though, was the interest that this mutual venture brought to our community as a whole.”

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