The entire school, including its library, was destroyed in the April 2011 tornado that flattened much of the town. As efforts to rebuild it continue, librarian Kerry Baker wrote a successful request to receive $15,000 from the Beyond Words: Dollar General School Library Relief Fund.
“The reading program is the backbone of any school’s instructional program, and this goes to the heart of that,” said Smithville Principal Chad O’Brian.
Baker, who has taught at Smithville for 24 years, wrote the grant request as part of a graduate education class she is taking at Ole Miss. The students were not required to submit their proposals, but Baker did so any way.
“It was pretty widespread destruction, nothing like I’d ever seen,” Baker said of the tornado’s impact. “It was like somewhere else. You didn’t know where you were because things were gone.”
Smithville’s new school is expected to open next August, O’Brian said. In the meantime, students are in trailer classrooms on a temporary campus.
The tornado did not destroy everything in the former library, O’Brian said, but the school did lose a lot of books and equipment. The grant will help it to make the new library even better than the previous one, he said.
“This gives us the ability to not only look at books,” he said. “Everyone thinks about books when they think about a library, but today’s library has become much more about technology, whether it is Nooks (electronic books) or computers. We’ll be able to set up stations, and the library can be an interactive part of the overall experience.”
The Dollar General grant was funded, O’Brian said, by money people at left in trays placed near the cash register at the store’s many locations.
“You put 15 or 20 cents in there and don’t think anything about it, but that is where this $15,000 came from,” he said.