Irving, TX

Irving Retired School Personnel Association Donates Books to Local Elementary Schools

Stacey Doud

Irving ISD retirees don’t necessarily sever any ties to the schools they served. The Irving Retired School Personnel Association (IRSPA) serves as a resource for retired schoolteachers and staff to promote the cause of education through providing scholarships for graduating high school seniors who are going to be future educators, providing educational services in health and safety, and providing books to elementary students.

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Two volunteers and retired IISD personnel collect books to distributeLee Mosty

“It's a statewide project, not just for individual ISDs, and there are some parameters the state gives us. But basically, we just fit it to our own district, anyway we want to do or can do it,” said Carol Schober, Committee Head for the Children's Book Project. “And so, we have developed a program where I have 19 helpers, which is 20 of us in all. That’s one for each elementary school. And we buy books from the Friends of the Irving Library. And they’re gently used books. And so, we can get them at a really good price, which is much cheaper than if we're buying brand new books. So, we buy about 400 books a month. And each one of us distributes 20 books to our assigned elementary school.

“The only month that the Friends of the Library do not have a book sale is in January. So, there's one month out of the nine [school] months that we can't buy books. We have eight deliveries, basically. And we can kind of arrange that however we want to. I know as an elementary teacher, in December there is just so much going on. We buy books, but I don't deliver them in December. We wait until January, which is kind of a slow month. There’s not too much going on in the schools,” Schober said.

“Each school has the option of however they want to distribute the books with the one caveat: They must make sure that the books get into the hands of students, not just filed in the library or teacher’s shelf. There are so many kids that don't have a book at all. It's so sad. It's up to the elementary as to who they give the books to.

“It could be the librarian who gives out the book. Sometimes, it's the counselor that gives out the book or it might be the vice principal. It just depends on how each school wants to do it, or how they can do it. Whatever is most comfortable for them,” said Schober.

“That amounts to 2,200 books a month that we can give away to children across the district. And that's done eight times a year. And we love the Friends of the Irving Library. They're so cooperative with us and they think we're great, too.

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IRSPA Certificate for the Children's Book ProjectLee Mosty

“The books are really in good shape. We look over them and they are sometimes written and scribbled in, or the pages are torn or whatever, and we can just put those back on the shelf and not buy them. I have about four or five people that go with me each month and we select the books and buy them and then I bring them to my house, and I distribute them. I put half of the books for the lower grades in a bag and half of the books for the upper grades in a separate bag. And then either the retired teachers can come by and pick them up from me and take them to their school, or they can wait until the next meeting, bring [the books] to the meeting, and they can pick them up there at their convenience. Just however they can get the books in the children’s hands,” Schober said.

The choice of topics of the books that are purchased lies with the purchaser but generally leaves out any controversial or banned items.

“Well, I have a couple of personal opinions. I may want to get any books for the upper grades that are like girlfriend and boyfriend books, but I think the fifth grade is a little too early for that. And I would hate to send the book home where that would be questionable to the parents. So, we try to try to choose the books carefully. We want the parents to approve of the book when it gets home,” Schober said.

“I'm a sucker for classic books: The books that have been around a while and tested and tried. And they're also award books. They're Caldicott Award books and then there are Newbery Award books, which are for the upper grades. There’s a little sticker, usually on the cover, where the Award winner seal is. So those are the ones that we like, and, of course, the Nancy Drew series.

“You know, we think back to our childhood and the books that we liked. And of course, there's C.S. Lewis, who is a great children's author. I've taught fourth grade. And I’d always read the first book in the Narnia series. And then, at the end of every book, we voted to go on to the next book in the series or pick another book. They always voted to keep going with that series,” said Schober.

The next IRSPA meeting will be held on December 9 at 10 am at First Christian Church in Irving, located at 114 W. Grauwyler Road, where they will have a silent auction.

Learn more about The Retired Irving School Personnel Association at https://trta.org/districts-and-local-units/irving-rspa/.

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