This article can also be found in the March 2018 issue of Queen Anne Living Magazine.
In her first year as the librarian at Ballard High School, TuesD Chambers already has big plans for the school.
In December, she was awarded a $100,000 grant from Farmers Insurance for her proposal to transform the school’s current library into the John Stanford Learning Commons – a similar concept to that of Odegaard Undergraduate Library and Learning Commons at the University of Washington.
Farmers Insurance created the Thank America’s Teachers initiative to encourage teachers to propose big ideas for their classrooms – and in Chambers’ case, libraries.
The initiative awarded a total of $1 million in educational grants to teachers throughout the nation in 2017, but just five teachers, including Chambers, were given the $100,000 grant.
Chambers plans to completely transform the current library at Ballard High School by upgrading it to a common space where students, teachers and community members can collaborate using digital and print media.
Chambers believes that Ballard High School won because their proposal was unique in that it involved a library instead of a classroom. “It was the fact that we were different and that we were part of a community,” she said.
Members of the Ballard neighborhood community often use the space for meetings and get-togethers.
“We want [the students] to be able to work together and showcase their work together,” Chambers said about the goal of the Learning Commons.
Currently, a cluster of computers in the middle of the library makes it difficult to teach and collaborate, so she plans to have movable furniture and interactive projectors to make the environment better-suited for collaboration.
Chambers believes that collaborative learning will better prepare students for the real world. It teaches them how to brainstorm and work together in teams, as is often the case in the workplace. Students have traditionally worked in isolation, but “that doesn’t work for problems today,” she said. “[In the real world] you have to work with people you don’t like all the time.”
Chambers is confident that the students will make the best possible use of the Learning Commons, and she’s been impressed by their drive to learn. “It sounds really cliché, but it’s the students,” she said about the most rewarding part of teaching. “It’s seeing them as they grow up.”