Beginning in 1997 with the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the Harry Potter series has placed a spell on the imagination of children everywhere. Reading has increased among elementary-aged kids creating a hunger for more material that can thrill while at the same time stretching their little minds. Thankfully, reading in this fantasy world has helped to kick-start reading of other materials as well. That’s why the Timber Lakes Book Club, at Timber Lakes Elementary School, was created. Under the leadership of Jenny Wojcik, partnering with the International Academy of Design & Technology (IADT), the Timber Lakes Book Club is using the magic of Harry Potter to bring over 170 third, fourth and fifth grade students into the wonderful world of reading.
The Orange County Public Schools Partners in Education program pairs businesses with schools, establishing a relationship that provides educators with more opportunities to help students succeed. The Partners in Education program recently nominated IADT for an award for their outstanding service to Timber Lakes Elementary School. With so many schools for businesses to partner with, it can be challenging finding the right fit. “We actively look for community projects to work on and that help the students show-off their design skills not just in graphics but in game and fashion as well,” says Jennie Sweo, Department Chair for Visual Communications at IADT, Orlando campus. “Another instructor, Itzel Lozada, who teaches in the Interior Design department, had originally made the first contact and was working with students on projects at Timber Lakes Elementary. It was Itzel who encouraged Jenny Wojcik to come to our campus to talk to the students to see if she could get some volunteers to just come to the school to help out with the book club.”
Projects like the Timber Lakes Book Club can be highly successful when partnering with a business like IADT. IADT is a Nationally Accredited Institution of Higher Education in the field of Art & Design, so using and applying creativity and imagination in a partnering relationship only comes natural for them. “The students were so enthused, being Harry Potter Fans themselves,” says Sweo. “They actually wanted to get more involved and wanted to design a logo for the book club using the school mascot and from there they went to town designing business cards, invitations for a special event, brochures, a website, posters of Latin phrases, and a food game that is on the website. It was something that just kept snowballing into more and more and the students were having a great time producing and learning how to produce better art work.”
Continuing to partner with Timber Lakes Elementary is something that IADT is looking forward to after seeing the response of the Timber Lakes students. As of this writing, Timber Lakes Elementary is out for summer break, but IADT remains busy with other projects, and Sweo is looking forward to the next phase. “Next week I again will meet with Jenny and see what events she has planned for the Timber Lakes Book Club. Once our term starts, I will meet with my graphics club director Gary Dufner and Student President Jennifer Anders and begin creating more art work and designs to help promote reading at the Book Club.”
The partnership relationship benefits both parties and Sweo sees the future as encouraging. “Our students got so much more out of the experience than just design work— they made connections in the community. They actually saw the difference their contributions made and that made them just want to do more. It was a really good learning and growing experience for all those involved.”
By Johnny Duncan
Johnny Duncan, President of Duncan Consulting, Inc., partners with business owners to provide workforce management solutions including personalized training, job analysis, teambuilding training, customer service training and conflict resolution. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 407-739-0718.