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Innovative Educator: Comfortable library inspiring a love for reading at Caldwell High School

Teacher and librarian Cheryl Griebenow is trying to change the narrative of libraries simply being a place to check out books for home reading.

CALDWELL, Idaho — Editor's note: This content is sponsored by CapEd Credit Union

When you think of a library, many of us might think of a quiet room where you go to study or a place where you check out a book and then take it home, but at Caldwell High School, teacher and librarian Cheryl Griebenow is trying to change that narrative. 

"I like to create a space that's really welcoming," Griebenow said.

She has done that by creating a more open and inviting environment; changing the lighting and creating different zones in the library.

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"We have tables with chairs for students to study, we have comfy couches for kids to hang out, we have also beanbag chairs and benches, kids can hang out and relax," Griebenow said.

She has also enlisted the help of her family to redesign those benches. The benches are now custom fit to the library and complete with charging ports. 

"We took apart a whole bunch of bookcases and emptied them and move them," Griebenow said. "So, we could rearrange the library and make it more user-friendly, I really wanted to make the aisles wider, make it more accessible to people of all abilities." 

Those changes seem to be working Griebenow told KTVB, the library is now a popular place to hang out during lunch.

"I'm really passionate about helping kids succeed academically, and one way that they can do that is by increasing their reading fluency," Griebenow said. 

Rather than have kids just read books cover to cover. Griebenow is also inspiring students to read with innovative games, like speed dating with books. 

"The first time I did that was for Valentine's Day, and it was just like a speed dating format, but they read different books for five minutes and then pass them on, and we're able to get a taste for what that book might be like and see if they might want to check it out," Griebenow said. 

This month she also incorporated what she calls 'choose your own adventure.'

"We put QR codes on the covers of books that connect to a book trailer that tells a bit of video that tells about the book," Griebenow said.

She also coordinates class visits with teachers.

"I believe that the library is for everyone and not everybody has the same reason to go there, and people of all different reading abilities can find something for them, and people that don't even want to read can come there and be welcomed," Griebenow said. 

She adds, that a library is a community space and it is successful when the community is involved. She also reached out to community volunteers who have helped her transform the library.

If you would like to nominate an Innovative Educator who is going above and beyond, send us an email at innovativeeducator@ktvb.com.

Educators, for information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit their website here.

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