With a campus facility originally opened more than 50 years ago, Ponderosa Elementary School is about to receive some much-needed updates to one of its most important central spaces – the school’s library and media center – thanks to a $50,000 grant awarded to the school by the College Football Playoff Foundation, which recently named Ponderosa as one of six Houston-area schools to receive funding as part of the organization’s mission to support education, teachers and students.
The 21st century makeover is part of the foundation’s Extra Yard for Teachers Makeover Project, which in recent years has partnered with school furniture and supply firm School Specialty to transform spaces in more than 60 schools in communities across the country. With special grant funding directed toward education projects in upcoming college football playoff cities – Houston is slated to host the College Football Playoff National Championship in January 2024 – each project is custom-designed to meet the needs of local schools and the communities they serve.
“I’m excited and grateful,” said Ponderosa Principal Floralba Reyna, who didn’t know her school was in the running until this year’s awards were announced.
“The library is a space where we can empower our students and inspire them,” Reyna said. “It’s also a space for our teachers, where librarians and our teachers collaborate on special projects, so I’m excited for this, because we’re going to be able to help more teachers and more students.”
Spring ISD Chief of Innovation Dr. Matthew Pariseau said the grant and the additional support from the College Football Playoff Foundation would bring a much-needed boost to the Ponderosa campus, which is the district’s third-oldest elementary facility, originally completed and dedicated in 1971.
“I think it’s going to have a huge impact in being able to provide students, staff and the community with an updated environment,” Pariseau said. “It’s an older campus, so it’s going to help us redesign the space to really capture the love of reading, while also expanding the utilization of media and maker-spaces to spur students’ creativity and passion for education and learning.”
The library and media center makeover project at Ponderosa will be designed in coordination with school staff as well as community stakeholders. The collaborative process is designed to allow school communities to implement the changes needed to better serve their unique student populations. Spring ISD team members will coordinate with the team at School Specialty to bring the project to life over the upcoming fall semester, with a special reveal celebration for the new library space once the project is completed.
The partnership between the College Football Playoff Foundation and School Specialty makes it possible for schools to incorporate contemporary library elements and furniture, as well as integrated media center technology, maker-spaces for student collaboration, and other STEM tie-ins to provide a modern facility ready to serve students and staff for years to come.
Reyna said she’s especially excited about designing an updated space that will promote literacy and a love of reading in her Ponderosa students, as well as providing newer technology and interactive elements that will spur students’ creativity and empower their learning journey.
“Every single student in our school goes to the library at least one time per week,” Reyna said. “The library is our heart.”