Michigan teacher transforms her porch into library for kids amid COVID-19 crisis

Posted at 4:17 PM, Mar 19, 2020

HOMER, Mich. — Ashley Calhoun has one rule for visitors who step onto her front porch on Fulton Street: use the hand sanitizers on the tables.

“People just need to come up, sanitize their hands, and grab as many books as they can,” Calhoun said. “This is not a book exchange, so if you grab books, they’re yours from now on.”

Calhoun, who teaches fourth grade at Homer Elementary School, transformed her large porch into a library. There are bookcases filled with hundreds of books that she got locally.

“The proximity is just wonderful. I mean we’re right across the street from the beautiful school,” said superintendent Scott Salow. “When Ashley sent me a text over the weekend and said, ‘hey can I have access to get these books?’ I said, ‘absolutely.’”

They went and grabbed some “goodies,” he said.

Since then, the community has donated notebooks, pens, pencils and nonperishable foods like pasta, ramen noodles and canned goods.

“I appreciate it’s a small town and people rally together,” Salow said. “Homer is a unique place. It really is a special place from taking care of our local businesses that have been shut down and impacted certainly our kids.”

Salow said it was difficult when he told his staff and teachers last Friday that they had to close the school due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Their first thoughts were about the children, Calhoun said.

“It was devastating,” said Calhoun. “These are our kids and to know that they wouldn’t have the safety of being able to come to school every day and see their friends every day, just being a part of their lives every day, it was devastating for all of us.”

Salow said the school is doing its best to meet the children’s needs, like preparing 200 meals a day through a delivery service. They’re hoping that Calhoun’s porch library will help to meet their educational needs while the schools remain closed.

Reading is important, she said.

“We have a sign out there: ‘Readers make Leaders,’” Calhoun said. “So, you need to be reading. Reading science books, fun books, social studies books, online recipes, everything.”

This story was originally published by Lauren Edwards at WXMI.