Curry Middle School Library Transformed into Dynamic Learning Space

Lisa Hammack’s vision, coupled with benevolent community members, helped the project come to fruition

Words and Images by Jenny Lynn Davis

When Lisa Hammack joined the Curry Middle School family as a library media specialist in 2011, the room she would call home inside the school had not been updated since the building opened to students in 1985. Despite wanting to update the library, funds were not readily available, so Hammack and her family worked to make the library more visually appealing.

Desiring to do more than just create a pretty space, Hammack sought to change how students viewed the library. Over the years, she worked to transform the space where students not only checked out books and learned about literature, but also engaged with different types of media. The library grew to include 3D printers, a green screen, and equipment for photos, short videos, and research reporting. Hammack also created “maker spaces” that feature board games, puzzles, crafts, Legos, Kinex, Keva planks, a Cricut paper cutter, and Sphero robots – materials which allow students to activate their minds in creative and thoughtful ways.

Still, this activity and use of modern technology took place in a library whose only aesthetic improvement over the last 35+ years was in the form of a new coat of paint. Wanting better for her students, Hammack composed and sent a letter to local businesses in early October, asking for their help with renovation projects.

Within a matter of days, she received the first donation from Hydrahoist, a local boat lift dealer. Within a week of sending the letter, a private donor offered to donate half of the needed amount if Hammack and the Curry Middle School family could raise the first half.

Funds also began pouring in from other sources. Alabama state representative Matt Woods contacted Hammack about a grant opportunity with Cawaco, a nonprofit organization that connects Central Alabama communities to the resources and partnerships needed to drive economic development in an environmentally sustainable way. Cawaco awarded the project $10,000, which set the total available funds for renovation at $53,750.

The media center now has all new furniture, shelving, tables, chairs, and a new circulation desk. The Walker County Board of Education also painted the entire library and installed new flooring, windows, and doors over the past two years. Millwork Supply donated new granite windowsills to finish the modern look of the space.

“Absolutely none of this would’ve happened without the support of our community,” says Hammack. “Twenty-two local businesses and three private donors contributed to this renovation, and we couldn’t be more thankful.”

Hammack and a team of student ambassadors welcomed community members and local leaders to an open house reception at the media center on Monday afternoon. Students led tours of the facilities and displayed the use of several technologies in the new space.

“From the very beginning, Mrs. Hammack asked us what we wanted for the media center and let us give our opinions, and I think it was great to be included,” said seventh grader Ralee Burgett.

“It’s nice to have all of these things so that we can learn skills that can help us in the future,” eighth grader Heath Miller added.

Hammack’s determination to transform Curry Middle School’s library into a dynamic space for learning and creativity is a testament to the power of education, and the contribution from local businesses serves as a model for community involvement in education.

The renovated library will undoubtedly continue to be a hub of creativity and learning for students for many years to come. WL

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