McBee Library Volunteer Newsletter

December 2014

Holiday Musings

I can't believe it's December! Your time here this semester has been such a gift. I feel like it was just yesterday I met each of you and watched you tentatively put that first book back on the shelf. You have grown since then in speed and confidence, but also and more importantly, as allies and advocates for our school and our students. This holiday season, I want you to know how appreciated you are and how much good you have done for McBee in 2014. Wishing you a restful and wonderful winter break. I look forward to having you back in 2015!

Can you help a homeless family?

Thank you for your efforts to help keep our kids warm this winter. The need here is great, and Parent Support Specialist Erica Reyes and I are working together again to tackle the next pressing issue.

We have a family of 6 children (2 of whom are students at McBee; the others are younger) who was recently evicted; all their personal belongings were discarded as a result. They are living in a motel room until they find more permanent housing. They are in urgent need of clothing (new or gently used), nonperishable food (they are cooking on a propane camp stove in the motel room), and especially diapers (size 3) and baby formula (Similac Advance). Please see sizes of children's clothing needed listed below.

Any donations can be brought directly to McBee and Ms. Reyes will see that the family receives them quickly. Please feel free to pass this information on to friends, family, and others in your network. Thank you!

  • 4th grade boy: size 10 pants and shirts
  • 3rd grade girl: size 6 pants and shirts
  • toddler boy #1: size 4T
  • toddler boy #2: size 3T
  • toddler girl: size 24 mos.
  • baby boy: size 12 mos.

Book Fair

Thank you for pitching in to help make the Book Fair a rip-roaring success! With your help setting up and decorating, prepping flyers to send home, making Wish Lists with students, counting coins, manning the register, monitoring the pencils and erasers, and cleaning up, we sold over $4,000 worth (a record for us and way more than my original goal)! I will keep about $1,000 of that for the library. That money will help bring more fantastic authors to McBee next semester.

Upcoming Events This Month

  • All month: Accelerated Reader (AR) book labeling continues (Teacher Assistants are helping with this in the afternoons daily)
  • December 8-18: Library Inventory involves scanning all of the books on the shelves and then hunting and pecking by hand for items that are missing. I will have a laptop set up for you at your regular volunteer time.
  • December 8-18: Our students will participate in the Hour of Code initiative.
  • December 12, Friday: Volunteers from Hewlett Packard (HP) and other tech companies will be here to help with Hour of Code.
  • December 12, Friday: I will meet Emma Sinclair and her yellow lab, Poppy. They are a pet therapy team from Austin Dog Alliance who will start working with students in the library in January as part of the Bow Wow Reading Dogs program.
  • December 18, Thursday: Volunteers from HP will drop off holiday wish list items they purchased for 20 of our neediest students.
  • December 19, Friday - January 4, Sunday: Winter Break

AISD School Calendar: I will continue to highlight upcoming McBee events in this newsletter, but to see district holidays, etc., for the remainder of the year you can access the AISD master calendar here.

Save the Date

  • December 19, Friday - January 4, Sunday: Winter Break
  • January 5, Monday: Classes resume
  • January 31, Saturday: Vertical Team Family Literacy Event at Lanier High School

Save Those Holiday Cards!

Please be prepared to save the fronts of your (non-photo) holiday cards for McBee! We will use them to make upcycled bookmarks in January. The students love them!


"Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him."

--Maya Angelou

McBee at a Glance

  • Enrolled students: 533
  • By self-report, 90% Hispanic (may or may not be in bilingual classes); 5% African American; 2% White; 2% two or more; 1% Asian
  • Economically disadvantaged students: 96%
  • English Language Learners (ELLs): 72%
  • Special Education students: 11%
  • 29 classroom teachers; 3 Special Education teachers; 5 Teacher Assistants (Special Education classes only); 1.3 each of art, music, and PE teachers (one full-time and one rotating teacher for each area); 1 counselor; 1 Parent Support Specialist; 3 Instructional Coaches (Reading, Math, and Science); 2 Reading Specialists; 3 part-time tutors; 1 nurse; 3 front office staff; 2 administrators (Principal and Assistant Principal)

Smart Girls Rule!

I have been hosting a book club after school on Mondays with a group of five 5th grade girls. We have been reading Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan and blogging back and forth with other Smart Girls (and their librarian) at Cook Elementary. If you'd like to see our work, click here. (Feel free to leave an encouraging comment on our blog!)

Best Books of 2014: Heather's Take

In this first annual feature, I offer my completely unscientific and totally biased recommendations of my favorite "grown-up" books published in 2014. (I will also have an Adult Summer Reading List later in the year.) Obviously reading tastes are highly subjective, but of all the books I read this year these are the ones that stuck with me. I'm always interested in your book recommendations, too.

Wishing you some time spent lost in a book (whether one of these or not) this season!

(Click on each title below to go to amazon for more information and reviews. If you buy these or any products from amazon after clicking through via one of my links, I will get a small amount of money back on a gift card that I can use to buy more books for McBee!)

Glitter and Glue: A Memoir by Kelly Corrigan (February)

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (May)

  • #1 Best-Seller in Historical Fiction

The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee by Marja Mills (July)

Travels With Casey by Benoit Denizet-Lewis (July)

  • #1 Best-Seller in Travel with Pets (Yes, apparently that niche category really exists.)

Ongoing Needs

  • calendars, stationery, and other unwanted gift tchotchkes you may receive in the mail from charitable organizations
  • stickers
  • puzzles and board games
  • household disinfecting wipes (Lysol, Clorox, or similar)
  • bookmarks
  • paper shopping bags with handles and/or reusable shopping tote bags with handles
  • Box Tops
  • gently used children's picture books and chapter books
  • office & school supplies (new and/or gently used)
  • holiday/seasonal decorations (new and/or gently used)
  • children's DVDs (new and/or gently used, G rating only)
  • inexpensive digital cameras
  • a connection to someone who could make a bee or reading-themed quilt or canvas art to hang in the library for a reduced price or free of charge

Like what you see in the library?

Tell the school board all about it by sending an email to