METRO Member Spotlight: P.S. 18

by Davis Erin Anderson, Community Engagement Manager, METRO

The library at New York City’s P.S. 18 celebrated its re-opening on November 4, 2013. Repainted in kid-friendly shades of blue, orange, and red, the library boasts new iPads, smartboards, and two thousand new books, all from a grant provided by Target’s School Library Makeover program.

20140303_PS18_2.JPGWith the new books from Target, the library’s collection now holds 13,000 circulating titles, as well as magazine subscriptions and online resources. The library expanded to 2,000 square feet from a single school room with a grant from the Robin Hood foundation in 2000. 

Ciro Scardina, the school’s librarian, sought out the grant when he learned that it could be combined with Target’s Meals for Minds program. As part of the program, the Food Bank of New York opens a pop-up food pantry in the school gym each month. This aid is critical to children and parents, the majority of whom live in nearby public housing.

Scardina, who firmly believes in the power of nutrition as a basis for educational attainment (“healthy food, healthy mind,” he says), has plans to build on this program by hosting a cooking class for the school’s parents using only ingredients from the pantry.

Scardina and his library assistant Ida Giordano meet with each class in the library once a week. To help repair the attainment gap in students from economically challenged backgrounds, Scardina is working with fifth grade teacher Erin Lundell on a professional development program for the school’s teachers focused on boosting academic vocabulary .

All of this activity fits into the Common Core guidelines recently adopted by New York state. Scardina credits the Department of Education's Office of Library Services for their guidance on this initiative. “They are the most amazing, supportive, collaborative, wonderful group of people that I have ever known. They have taken the Common Core [standards] and tailored it to librarians by creating the information fluency continuum.”

Scardina also credits P.S. 18’s principal Robert Rodriguez for his support of the library’s many initiatives. “I've been given an angel with him as a boss,” he says. With all that he does for the community through the services the library provides, it is likely that the feelings are mutual.

Photos published courtesy of Ciro Scardina.

This month's spotlight is dedicated to Phyllis Scardina.