Monday, March 27, 2017

Researching the Homework Gap

Nationally, 7 in 10 teachers assign homework that requires internet access. But an estimated five million households with school-age children do not have internet access at home. Students that fall into this “homework gap”—households where internet access is limited or unavailable—lag behind in education and are less competitive in the workforce.

But if you’re a parent with children in North Carolina’s K-12 schools you already know what happens when your children and/or their classmates can’t meaningfully access the internet.

Many of you spend hours each week driving your children to a nearby McDonalds or Starbucks to use their Wi-Fi because internet is not available to your house or it’s too expensive. Or trek to the local library multiple times a week so your kids can use the computers because your digital device is broken, being used by one of your other children, or you don’t have one at home because buying one doesn’t fit in your budget. 



The State of North Carolina wants to help ensure no child in the K-12 schools falls into the homework gap. But to do so, the State needs to know how widespread the homework gap is and potential challenges students face in accessing digital resources.

To identify this data, our partners, the Broadband Infrastructure Office and the Friday Institute, are conducting a survey of North Carolina households with K-12 students. We would like to encourage you to take the survey so policy makers and education stakeholders can design solutions to this issue.

The anonymous, short survey is available in English and Spanish and can be found here K-12 Internet Access at Home Survey (Encuesta de Accessoa Internet K-12 en el Hogar) (or at below link). It remains open until April 30, 2017.

Should you have any questions, concerns, or feedback, you can reach out to the Broadband Infrastructure Office directly at: broadband@nc.gov or (919) 754-6695.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

My Granddaddy “was” Tom Sawyer



Mark Twain, published his famous book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 1876. The novel developed from reflecting on experiences he had growing up and those of a San Francisco fireman, the “real Tom Sawyer.”   Tom Sawyer, the non-fictional character, met Mark in the 1860s, who was then working as a free-lance reporter for San Francisco's Daily Morning Call.   Sawyer, a celebrated hero, was credited with rescuing ninety lives in a terrible fire that consumed a steamer ship off the coast of Baja.  The two spent many nights drinking, gambling, and telling stories about their boyhood adventures.  Mark was so inspired by Tom that he gave the man's name to his most famous boy character.  Other characters in the book: Aunt Polly, Sid, Huckleberry Finn, Becky Thatcher, and Injun Joe were also inspired by friends and family.  Reports note that Mark, himself, spoke often about 'being' Tom Sawyer.  It may be that some of Tom's adventures were things young Twain would have liked to brag on at the moment in time when he actually experienced them, but smart enough to know that he had to stay mum or risk exposing himself and suffering consequences for his behavior.

My granddaddy, Kenneth Hartman, was born in 1921 and grew up along the James and Appomattox Rivers in Hopewell, Virginia.  After listening to his stories and adventures as a boy, I am quite sure that my granddaddy, Mark Twain, or likely the character Tom Sawyer, must have lived parallel lives.  At a recent visit with my granddaddy I asked him about his all-time favorite book and without thinking he immediately said The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  Although the book was published forty-five years before he was born and probably not read by granddaddy until at least ten years later than that, he admired and related to the character's adventures.  I can certainly agree that my granddaddy “was Tom Sawyer,” and that most likely this character still lives vicariously today in the lives, if not minds, of many young boys.  Granddaddy tells of discovering a cache of whiskey “moonshine” in the woods while out picking blackberries one day.  He described the thrill of riding in a police car to disclose the find and having to duck down in the floorboard for safety, when nearing the contraband's hidden location.  As the youngest child in a large family, granddaddy often had to find ways to entertain himself while the others were busy doing “adult” things.  Living near the water, folks would think nothing about sharing their boats with each other, and granddaddy recalled many times he would hop in a neighbor’s boat to float downstream.  Permission may have been assumed, but I'm sure he took liberties by setting off on his own.  He admits there were things he discovered on those river outings that he would have loved to tell about, but had to keep those secrets for fear of getting into trouble.     Generally, boys are fearless and never consider danger when exploring outdoors, although his mother would have probably grounded him if she knew half of what he got into.  Another story reminded me of Tom Sawyer's successful attempt to pawn his whitewashing duties off on others.  Once when granddaddy was given the job of looking after a relative's baby, he desperately wanted to play a ball game with his friends.  He cleverly assigned his dog Roscoe to babysitting duties by instructing the dog to watch over the little one while he engaged in sport.  Roscoe was well-trained and guarded the crawling baby by barking and keeping it in place on a nearby quilt spread while the boys played.  Like Tom, Granddaddy had a carefree manner and charmed all the girls.  He was voted by his peers for senior superlatives in most all categories... most handsome, most friendly, most likely to succeed, class clown, wittiest, most popular, you name it Granddaddy was center stage. 

I can just imagine my Granddaddy, a lovable jokester, after recalling the adventures he lived as an adult.  When we visited our grandparents as children, I remember how self-sufficient granddaddy was... tending his garden, building anything he wanted in his wood shop, fishing, hunting, working on cars and trucks.  And I remember his sense of humor and how he always made us laugh.  I'm sure Mark Twain's stories played a big part in shaping my granddaddy's personality and I can picture him now curled up in his own hideaway cave reading about Tom and Huck's adventures.
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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer can be considered a literary classic, and at the same time stirs controversy when challenged for racist, casual insults made by its characters.  I experienced negative feelings about this book from parents of my students when I taught junior high language arts at a predominately black school.   What needs to be considered is that Twain wrote his story in vernacular to show how people talked during that time. Granddaddy points out that the language and dialog were authentic for the 1850s and he knew that, even when he first read the book.  I think like all history books there are things in this novel that we can learn about our past and relate to in our present.  As a girl, my childhood adventures might have included some daring escapades, but with this novel I can enjoy “living” Tom's experiences, or more realistically Becky's.  I know it's true, books can transport their readers with no restrictions, no limits, into other minds, other worlds, and many other adventures. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Ashe Library Hosts a “Day in the District”

The library will host a “Day in the District” open house from 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. on March 4, 2017. As you may know, the state legislature’s appropriations committees will soon begin drafting their 12 annual spending bills to fund the government for the next two years. Local and state elected officials will be visiting to see how our library serves its community.   Providing access to information, literature, and lifelong learning are the fundamental goals of American libraries. This is true now more than ever, and citizens must use their voices to ensure our library legacy remains viable and fully funded.   We invite you to come speak to your elected officials about the importance of state and local funds in maintaining a high level of library service in Ashe County.
 

During the month of February, Ashe Library has been celebrating National Love Your Library Month.  A special reception is planned from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. on February 24 to thank the community for all the support received in the last year.  At the reception an unveiling of the library’s new MindKare Kiosk is scheduled.  This unit was granted to the library by VAYA Health and will provide free and confidential screenings to pre-assess mental health conditions.  The public location for this kiosk will prompt increased visibility and ease the process of checking in on one’s mental health, making it as easy and accessible as checking in on one’s physical health.  Next time you are in the library, visit the kiosk for quality care through provision of local treatment referrals.

Some of the comments collected this month, from local patrons of all ages, show how much the public library is appreciated:
  • "I love the library because of the wealth of information contained for all age groups. Not only reading material, but education classes are offered or discussions of different subjects are offered."
  • "Wonderful place to be! It's hard to leave!"
  • "Because it takes me places I can't afford to visit."
  • "Excellent facility! Great programs! Friendly librarians!"
  • "It is a safe place. It's friendly. My home away from home."
  • "Friendly staff! And what an important community resource!"
  • "I love you library because you guys help us when we need help." (child)
Save the date for Ashe Library’s Love Your Library Reception (February 24), and Day in the District (March 4).  Anyone can speak up for your libraries—your voice counts!

Dates to remember in March:

 Children’s Programs

  • Baby Bounce meets every Friday at 10:00 a.m. for ages birth to 2 years.  Enjoy stories, rhymes, bounces, and songs with a stay-and-play social time afterwards.
  • Tot Time meets every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. for ages 2 and 3.  Wiggle, giggle, laugh, sing, and create!  This is a fun-filled time featuring stories, art, and music.
  • Story Time meets every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. for ages 4 and 5.  Join us for ABC adventures with stories, art, and music.
  • Move to the Music is an active engaging time for youth to explore music, movement, and learning. This program is for ages 1-7 and meets on March 3 at 10:30 a.m.  A moving child is a learning child.
  • The Lego Club meets on March 23 at 4:00 p.m. for grades 1-5. Build, create, and make new friends.
Tween Programs
  • ·     Tween Takeover! Gamers Unite! Tween gamers meet at 4:00 p.m. on March 9 for food and fun with friends to play Minecraft, giant games and various board games.

Teen Programs
  • T for Teen, Gamers unite! will meet at 4:00 p.m. on March 7.  Xbox 360 and laptops available for gaming.
  • Teen Art Studio meets at 4:00 p.m. on March 14. Come and create! We provide the supplies and you make the art in this open choice art studio.
  • Board Game Café meets at 4:00 p.m. on March 21.  Come alone or bring a group to enjoy a variety of board games, hot coffee from local brews, and sweet treats.
  • The Teen Advisory Council (TAC) meets at 5:00 p.m. on March 21.  Tell us what you want to see in YOUR library.
  • Teen Craft Club meets at 4:00 p.m. on March 28.  Join us for our monthly art workshop to make origami bookmarks.
Adult Programs
  •  For all your tech troubles, book and appointment with our friendly reference librarians.  Call 336.846.2041 x227
  • Yoga Club meets in the library’s downstairs meeting room at 5:30 p.m. on Mondays.
  • Read Around the World Book Club meets at 5:45 p.m. on March 15.  Take a literary journey to far-flung locales with this monthly book club, focusing on titles set in other countries. Ask for this month’s selection, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, at the circulation desk.
  • The Library Matinee features Loving (PG13) at 1:00 p.m. on March 18.  Watch the story of Richard and Mildred Loving who violate a Virginia law that prohibits interracial marriage and take their case to the Supreme Court.
  • Brouhaha Book Club meets at 5:30 p.m. on March 27 in Boondocks Restaurant for “Books, Beer and Bookworm Babble.”  Come and find out what everyone has been reading lately!
  • Come out for a Pink4Lunch at 12:00 p.m. on March 29 to eat, meet, and educate. In partnership with Susan G. Komen Northwest NC, the library will host a lunch and learn session to raise awareness of importance for the early detection of breast cancer. Registration is encouraged.

 All Ages
  • A family program, Book and a Bite, takes place from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. on March 4. Create a hand puppet, pick up a recipe and browse selected books for dinner table conversation starters.
  • Get Crafty and make Quick Knit & Crochet Gifts at 10:00 a.m. on March 11.  Instruction available for beginners and project materials are provided.
  • The Community Drum Circle meets at 5:30 p.m. on March 14 and 28.  Join the celebration of drums, while exploring the soul and spirit of music!
  • Mountain Music Slow Jam will meet from 5:30-7:00 p.m. on March 3 and 17 in the downstairs meeting room (after-hours access through side door on lower parking lot).  Get together with other musicians and jam.  Songs are explained as to timing, breaks, etc… and played in slow time.  Designed for beginners, all skill levels are welcome.

Special Events:

  • Kevin Hining, NC Wildlife Resources Education Specialist, talks about Citizen Science projects with native wildlife at 4:00 p.m. on March 2.
  • Visit between 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. with our elected officials at the library’s “Day in the District.”
  • Hear young local talent perform a Celtic Music Concert at 4:00 p.m. on March 16.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Technology is Creating a Reading Revolution!



Reading has never been easier, and we keep seeing breakthroughs every year. Without a doubt, we have the capacity to be the most well-read generation in history.  Providing digital resources for entertainment, information, and inspiration is a big part of Ashe Library’s mission to promote knowledge, reading, and lifelong learning.   The library offers a large online collection of eBooks and is excited to introduce NC Kids Digital Library, its newest online resource.  This service provides instant access to over 3,700 eBooks, audiobooks, videos, and Read-Alongs for young patrons.  Library cardholders will be able to borrow 5 titles, for up to 3 weeks, at a time.  Some special features that come with these eBooks include highlighted read alongs and definitions. And text can be converted into wonderful OpenDyslexic font, so that dyslexic readers can read text easier. If you don’t have a library card, drop in the library to get registered now.  Library staff are ready to sign you up and introduce you to this wonderful online collection.  


Another motivation for reading is the Ashe Library 2017 Reading Challenge.  This year Ashe Library remains Appalachian Regional Reading Champions, again outdoing Wilkes and Watauga Counties in a bit of friendly reading competition.  During the year 2016 over 1,200 books were read and reviewed by challenge participants, doubling previous year’s numbers.  The challenges offer a good mix between the general (so you can include many of the books you would have read anyway) and the specific (so you have to read some books you never would have chosen on your own).   Our library sponsors this challenge for two very important reasons: to promote literacy in our community and have fun doing it!  Our community has been very supportive in sponsoring our literacy efforts by donating gifts as incentives to reward our readers.  We would like to extend public thanks to the following local businesses: Boondock Brewing, Rose Mountain Butcher Shoppe, Art of Oil, The Vintage Locket, The Hotel Tavern, Bobby D’s Pizza, The Log House Restaurant, Carolina Country Wines, Ashe County Arts Council, Parkway Theater, Food Lion, The Quilt Square Girls, Bohemia Coffee Shop, Walmart, Mountain Outfitters, Florence Thomas Art School, Sweet & Savory, Osaka’s Chinese & Japanese Restaurant, and Ashe County Friends of the Library.  Information about joining the 2017 Reading Challenge can be found on the library’s website and at the library.  Above all just READ - explore new things - play with your imagination- widen your horizon- heal your soul - brush your opinion and you will become a better person!  Research proves that “deep reading" is vigorous exercise for the brain and increases our real-life capacity for empathy.
Dates to remember in February:

Children’s Programs
  • Baby Bounce is every Monday at 10:00 a.m. for birth to two year-olds.  Bring your young ones for stories, rhymes, bounces, and songs with “stay and play” social time afterward.
  • Tot Time is a fun-filled time for 2 & 3 year-olds, featuring stories, art and music at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesdays.
  • Story time for 4 & 5 year olds feature ABC Adventures at 10:30 a.m. on Thursdays.
  • A special story time for daycare classes takes place at 9:30 a.m. on February 3.  Call 336.846.2041 x223 to register.
  •  Move to the Music takes place at 10:30 a.m. on February 17.  This is an active engaging time for youth to explore music, movement, and learning.
  •  Build, create, and make new friends at a Lego Block Party at 4:00 p.m. on February 23.

Tween Programs
  •  Tween Takeover! Gamers Unite! Tween gamers meet up to play Minecraft, giant games and various board games at 4:00 p.m. on February 9.  This month there will be a hot chocolate bar! 
Teen Programs
  • T for Teen – Gamers unite at 4:00 p.m. on February 7! Xbox 360 and laptops are available for teen gaming. 
  • Visit the Teen Art Studio at 4:00 p.m. on February 14. Come and create, supplies are provided.
  • Board Game Café is open at 4:00 p.m. on February 21. Come alone or bring a group to enjoy a variety of board games, hot coffee from local brews, and sweet treats.
  • Help plan upcoming events at the library with the Teen Advisory Council at 5:00 p.m. on February 21.
  • The Teen Craft Club will learn about finger knitting at 4:00 p.m. on February 28.
Adult Programs
  •  For all your tech troubles, book an appointment with our friendly reference librarians.  Call 336.846.2041 x227
  • Yoga Club meets in the library’s downstairs meeting room at 5:30 p.m. on Mondays.
  • Brouhaha Book Club meets at 5:30 p.m. on February 27 in Boondocks Restaurant. There is no assigned reading for this club.  Join our lively discussion of recent reads. 
  •  Stop the library from 2- 4 p.m. on February 24 for a “Love Your Library Reception” and find out about all the reasons to love your library! 
All Ages
  • A family program, Book and a Bite, takes place from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. on February 4. Create a centerpiece for the table, pick up a recipe and browse selected books for dinner table conversation starters.
  • Get Crafty and make Quick Knit & Crochet Gifts at 10:00 a.m. on February 11.  Instruction available for beginners and project materials are provided.
  • The Community Drum Circle meets at 5:30 p.m. on February 14 and 28.  Join the celebration of drums, while exploring the soul and spirit of music!
  • Mountain Music Slow Jam will meet from 5:30-7:00 p.m. on February 3 and 17 in the downstairs meeting room (after-hours access through side door on lower parking lot).  Get together with other musicians and jam.  Songs are explained as to timing, breaks, etc… and played in slow time.  Designed for beginners, all skill levels are welcome.
Special Events
  • An ABC Hunt will take place during the month of February.  Visit our display and try your hand at identifying items which represent letters of the alphabet. There will be challenges!!!
  • February 16 is World Read Aloud Day.  Stop in at 4:00 p.m. to hear stories read by special readers and visit with Arly the Library Fox.
  • Meet Lisa Muir, the author of Taking Down the Moon at 3:00 p.m. on February 27.  This book is a collection of short stories full of quirky and compelling characters. 
The library extends gratitude for donations given by Morris Walker on behalf of Ms. Alda Perkins.