Watson Chronicle


Support for Educators in the Field

Melissa Raymer, Wilson Okello Support Literacy at D.C. Virgo

Saturday, May 01, 2021

Melissa Raymer, Art and Education Librarian at Randall Library, has received a 2021 Inspire Special Event Grant from the American Association of School Librarians. The $2,000 award will support a middle school book club and reading nook at D.C. Virgo.

The AASL offers the Inspire Special Event Grant through the generous donation of AASL member and retired middle school librarian Marina “Marney” Welmers. The grant supports special events that help public middle or high school libraries enhance extracurricular activities in order to increase student academic achievement.

Leila Stackleather, second grade teacher at Virgo and Jodi Hebert, Virgo operations coordinator and liaison are partnering with Raymer on the project.

"DC Virgo Preparatory Academy would like to thank AASL and Marina "Marney" Welmers for their support,” Raymer said. “Receiving this grant allows us to purchase books from various genres by authors who are African American, or People of Color, and represent our students. This grant will help us create a comfortable recreational reading nook space for students to freely browse the book club sets, offer a place for them to relax, read, and reflect with their peers while building literacy skills."

Raymer has also received a Mathical Book Prize Collection Development Award for D.C. Virgo. Presented by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in partnership with School Library Journal, the collection development awards give libraries in K–12 Title I schools grants of $700 to purchase titles from the Mathical Book Prize list.

D.C. Virgo is one of 25 schools nationwide selected to receive the award. SLJ announced the news on April 13: SLJ, MSRI Select 25 School Libraries to Receive Mathical Book Prize Collection Development Awards.

TEO Awards Support Literacy at Virgo

Melissa Raymer and Wilson Okello have each received $2,000 awards from WCE’s Office of Teacher Education and Outreach to support literacy initiatives at D.C. Virgo.

Raymer’s award provided funding for the purchase of books for students in kindergarten through eighth grade in support of a project titled, “March Book Madness at DC Virgo Preparatory Academy.”

Okello’s award provided support for a project titled, “Community Conversations on Identity and Mental Health.” The funds were used to purchase books for DC Virgo students, families and staff to help facilitate conversations to increase awareness on identity and/or children’s mental health.

Okello is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at the Watson College. He served as a faculty-in-residence at D.C. Virgo in fall 2020, with a focus on building critical thinking partnerships with D.C. Virgo staff to reflect on cultural context and practices.