Spring 2016 Book Fair Scholarship Essays


It’s that time of year again! Our Spring Book Fair is in full swing, and we are collecting donations to make our Book Fair Scholarships for this fair a success. Each year we raise hundreds of dollars to fund scholarships for hard working students that can’t afford to purchase books from the Book Fair. This year, we have a record number of students in need – which means that we need your help.

Why donate? Why give money for other kids to buy books, when you’ve already scrounged to provide for your own? Why purchase a raffle ticket for a basket full of stuff you don’t really need?

Because while we’re fundraising, Johnson students are busy writing; each applicant must complete a scholarship essay to be considered for an award. Instead of telling you why I think you should give, I’ll let the recipients of your generosity speak for themselves.

This year, the Book Fair Scholarship Essay prompt asked students to finish a sentence. When I am reading a book that I really love, I feel… 

Here is what they said.

When I am reading a book that I really love, I feel… excited. […] I never want to let go of reading it would be like selling a part of my personality at the market. When I’m reading, it feels like I’m soaring above the clouds, but when I have to close a book I feel like I have nowhere to go and nothing to do. Who would I be without reading, reading is my world. Someday I’m going to write my own book so that kids like me can read it and never let go of reading. I think everyone should have at least one book. Reading is not just an activity to me it’s part of me. I’m not scared when I’m reading, I fee free and brave and I feel wise. Reading helps me in life. I know from reading you don’t have to act like anybody else you are great just the way you are. […] Every page in a book is a new memory for the kid who reads it.”

 – Johnson third grader


When I am reading a book that I really love, I feel…relaxing and calm. I love reading so much. It’s so interesting. Read helps me learn and it helps me calm down. I hope this someday inspires someone. I love reading and I will never ever let anyone get in my way.”

– Johnson third grader


When I am reading a book that I really love, I feel… amazing. Another world. Read it again. Awesome, cool, a wonderful experience, a cool book to read. Take my time on reading a book, learning what is the book talking about.”

– Johnson fourth grader


When I am reading a book that I really love, I feel…so happy even when it is raining or cold and I am alone I know I am with my friend. A new friend. Also I can visit them I can play with them and they make me forget when I am sad or angry.”

– Johnson second grader


When I am reading a book that I really love, I feel… happy. Great. I feel that I rock like a rocket ship cause I love books so much. I’ve never known I will read as much as I live cause I love books so much.”

– Johnson third grader


“When I am reading a book that I really love, I feel…happy. I feel like I’m in the book. I feel like I’m saving it. I feel like an adventurer. I feel like a castle and a dragon. I feel like I’m flying. I feel like I’m jumping and running. I feel like Superman. I feel like I’m getting stronger and shorter. I feel like I’m playing.”

– Johnson second grader


When I am reading a book that I really love, I feel… happy because books are good for you. Because it makes you get better at reading. In some books that are hard just sound it out if you can’t sound it out tell the teacher. And if a teacher gets you to read to her you can get the words right. And if it is hard just try your best.”

– Johnson third grader


When I am reading a book that I really love, I feel… happy. And I love your books. It makes me feel not sad. It just makes me feel happy every time. I really loved it. When I read it, it makes me dream about it every time. And I love to read and be a good girl every time. I love books.”

Johnson second grader


When I am reading a book that I really love, I feel… excited when I read a book. I was proud. I was nervous when I won the prize last year.  I was happy when I won. I was proud when I won the money. I was very happy when I won. I was nervous. I hope that I win this year.”

– Johnson second grader


The Book Fair Scholarship Committee hopes to fund almost 100 scholarships this Spring.

You can donate to the Book Fair Scholarship Fund by visiting the Learning Leopard Library, or by contacting me (fitzhes1@charlottesvilleschools.org).

Spring Book Fair Raffle tickets will be on sale through this evening’s family shopping event at the Spring Concert (cash only). 

The 2016 Spring Book Fair is here!


Our Spring Book Fair from Bedford Falls has arrived! And friends, it is a beaut.

All of your favorites from our fall shopping spree have returned, plus more. Find all of the Magic Tree House Books, a full cart of Newberry and Caldecott award winners, favorite picture books in hardback and paperback, and even board books for the little ones. This year we also have a selection of books in Spanish, as well as a great variety of craft books, like drawing and origami!

While you’re shopping, take a moment to check out the haul from this fair’s Book Fair Scholarship Raffle! This raffle’s picnic theme makes the basket of books, games, and toys the perfect thing to get your family ready for summer break. And the winners can start their summer of on the right note with a VIP pass to the Books on Bikes Bike Parade on June 4th. The VIP pass means exclusive VIP decorations, a front row riding spot with the biggest Books on Bikes celebrities, and a special treat once we reach our final destination: the JMRL Summer Reading Kickoff Party!


Fall book fair raffle

You can purchase tickets any time that the Book Fair is open for shopping, from 7:40 AM – 3:00 PM all week long. You can also shop for books and enter the raffle on Thursday evening at the Spring Concert, from 5:30 PM to the end of the PTO Ice Cream Social.

Johnson’s Book Fair Scholarship Program helps to purchase books for students that qualify based on financial need, and complete application essays about reading and literature. Over the past three years, the scholarship program, raffle, and donations have raised amazing funds thanks to your help. These have provided high quality, high interest books for almost a thousand Johnson students!

See you soon, shoppers!

Learn more about our Book Fair Scholarship program, and meet some of the lucky (and adorable!) winners, here.



Coming Soon: Spring Book Fair and more!


We may be just a few weeks from the end of the school year, but don’t worry – we’re planning on squeezing a whole semester’s worth of events into the month of May 😉 And the library is no exception! Mark these upcoming dates on your calendar to be sure that you don’t miss anything.

Spring Book Fair with Bedford Falls – May 16-20

 The Johnson Spring Book Fair is coming up! The fair open for shopping on Monday, May 16-Friday, May 20th. Students can shop in the morning from 7:40-8:15, during their library time, or after school between 2:30-3:00. Additionally, the Book Fair will be open for families to shop on the evening of the Spring Concert from 5:45-7:30. While you’re shopping, don’t forget to check out the Spring Book Fair Raffle goodies and buy your tickets! Tickets are $3 each or two for $5. All proceeds raised from the Book Fair Raffle go toward funding Book Fair Scholarships for deserving Johnson students.

We need parent volunteers to make our Book Fair successful! If you’d like to volunteer your time to help students during the week of May 16, please contact me at fitzhes1@charlottesvilleschools.org. 

Read about our last Book Fair here, and follow this link to learn more about the Johnson Book Fair Scholarship Program. 

Final Week of Student Check-Out – May 9-13

I know it seems unbelievable, but the final week of student check out is almost here! Next week, May 9-13, will be the last week for Johnson students to bring new books home. The final two weeks of school, circulation will be focused on helping students to return their lost and overdue books to the library for inventory. Every book returned is one less that has to be paid for and replaced from our limited budget – so please check your students’ backpack for overdue notices, and do your part to help maintain our library collection!

Last year, I made a public plea for our lost books. Can you save me from groveling this year?

All Student Library Books Due – Friday, May 27

Our last week of checkout may be next week, but students are invited to keep their books through the Book Fair if they’d like. In the week following the Book Fair, library books will be returned by classes in the usual schedule. By the end of this week, notices will start coming home for lost and overdue books that haven’t come home yet. I know that a lot of flyers and papers come home during this time of year – but please keep your eyes out for overdue notices! That book is probably sitting on a bookshelf or in the car, waiting to be returned. We truly appreciate the effort!

Field Day – Tuesday, May 31

Popsicles. Games. Bouncy House. Sunshine. Enough said.

Fourth Grade Moving Up Ceremony – Thursday, June 2

Bring tissues.

Books on Bikes Bike Parade – Saturday, June 4

Help books on Bikes kick off our summer season with our third annual Bike Parade! Bring the whole family to decorate your bikes, learn about bike safety, and parade through downtown Charlottesville to celebrate literacy and your favorite summer program. We will end at the Jefferson Madison Regional Library main branch for their Summer Reading Kickoff Celebration. Honk, honk – you don’t want to miss it!

Our annual Bike Parade has grown every year thanks to your help. Check it out here in 2014, and then in 2015! How many will we have this year?

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Hold on tight for these last few weeks. As always, feel free to send any questions or concerns my way via email or phone. If you’re in the building, stop by and say hello – and I hope to see you all at our Spring Book Fair!


This Month in Photos: 9/25-10/30



October is always a busy month at Johnson, but this month feels like it has been our busiest yet! From special guests and reading events to Creepy Carrots and engineering tools, October has been a blur. Take a look at some of the amazing things we’ve been doing in the Learning Leopard Library!


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This time last month, I was in Seattle, Washington in a room full of the best librarians from around North America and Canada. This fantastic opportunity to learn from the leaders in the library field gave me so many new ideas and so much inspiration! I loved hearing about how school library media specialists are making a difference in their schools and creating engaging, flexible spaces for their students.

It was also an excellent opportunity to share the message of the Books on Bikes organization to library movers and shakers to take back to their own hometowns. Above you can see me sharing Books on Bikes tshirts with famous authors like Jack Prelutzky (the inaugural winner of the Children’s Poet Laureate award!), Neil Shusterman (on the short list for this year’s National Book Award!), Susan Nielsen, and Leslye Walton. Plus a few librarians from Texas, Maine, and Washington state, who are eager to start their own Books on Bikes chapters this summer!




It may seem like ages have passed, but our Fall Book Fair was only a few weeks ago! The Bedford Falls Book Fair saw huge amounts of traffic and record-breaking sales. I was lucky enough to work with a wonderful group of parent volunteers that made the experience so much fun for Johnson’s students. Thank you to everyone that helped to make the Fall Book Fair possible!






Along with the Book Fair comes my favorite project… Book Fair Scholarships! Thanks to our highest raffle ticket sales ever, generous anonymous donations, and teacher sponsorship, we were able to fund 88 Book Fair Scholarships this year! That’s more students shopping, reading, and sharing the Book Fair Magic than EVER before. We couldn’t have done it without you!


One last Book Fair update… this year, we raffled off our biggest Book Fair Raffle basket EVER! With more than 25 books, a selection of games and prizes, and a Books on Bikes t-shirt, the competiton was fierce. And we sold a record 75 raffle tickets this year… WOW! Congratulations to our winner, Ananda! Ananda is such a huge reader and supporter of our library, I know that those books will be well loved and put to good use. Hooray Ananda!



What do librarians do on Professional Development Days, anyway? We get together to help improve our library programs, of course! Sometimes our Professional Learning Community discusses curriculum, new best practices in reading and literacy, or to present about fun literacy updates at our schools. On this particular PD day, we got together to learn about the art of book mending. Using a kit of specially designed glues, tapes, and tools, our instructors from the Jefferson Madison Regional Library can take even the most damaged book and make it look brand new again.

This Book Doctor, however, still has some training to do. It was wonderful to get some hands-on experience in book mending, and I look forward to getting some of our recovering books out of the Book Hospital and back into students’ hands! Thank you to JMRL for the awesome demonstration!





As always, the library has been full of readers showin’ off their stuff. From Dance Mat Typing to Kahoot to exploring chapter books and everything in between, the library is busy and bustling every hour of the day!

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Chase and Sahana, my Safety Patrol experts, are busier than ever. In addition to assisting with open check out in the mornings, they have also started preparing and delivering educational resources to teachers. Here, they check out a pile of books on economics for Mrs. Schaaf to use with her students in her classroom. This big pile was hand-delivered just a few minutes later!


Thursday, October 22nd, Johnson joined the national Read for the Record celebration by sharing this year’s selected Read for the Record story, Not Norman, to every student in the building. We had a little bit of extra help to celebrate from our friends at the UVA Football Team! Find out all about our special day here.



Second graders are continuing their Library Superhero training, and you can tell they are really taking it seriously. In the photos above, Super Leo acts as my Sidekick for the day, assisting patrons at the computer and checking the library for evil-doers; and Keira surprised me by showing up to library class in her own personal cape! Library Superhero twins!


Have you heard? Engineering is coming to Johnson! Last week, I posted a new project to DonorsChoose to bring an Engineering Club to our students. Before I even had a chance to post is on the blog, it was fully funded! Resources have been arriving all week, and I’m having a blast getting to know the materials and preparing them to share with students. I am working with engineering students from the University of Virginia to create a custom curriculum to challenge, excite, and inspire our students starting in January. Stay tuned for updates about the coming Engineering Club – and thank you so much to all of the Johnson families that made this project possible!

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For the second year in a row, Creepy Carrots busted out of the library and took over Johnson! Today, a brave pre-k class joined me on a carrot hunt to track down all of the escaped Creepy Carrots. Together, we counted SEVENTEEN CARROTS wreaking havoc all over the building! It was a great adventure for this pre-k group, and such a magical way to bring a favorite story to life for all Johnson students.


Later that day, Mr. Harden found the creepiest carrot of all in the Johnson Garden! I had a great laugh when he brought me this monster. I might just have to keep this guy as my creepy carrot mascot.

This has been a fun and exciting month in the Learning Leopard Library with so many great experiences for Johnson students. And none of this month would have been possible without YOU! Thank you for being a part of our library program and for making these wonderful experiences possible. I love working with you on the Johnson Elementary Team and am so happy to be a part of this wonderful community.

Wishing you a safe and fun Halloween weekend! See you next week!

Book Fair Magic


Prepare yourself: I’m about to share something shocking with you.

Most librarians don’t like Book Fair.
(I’m using very tame language here.)

And I get it. The hours are long, the companies aren’t always gracious, and the workload is intense. Emotions are high, you count a thousand pennies a day, and it’s busy every single minute. Canyouhelpmecountmychange? Howmuchdoesthiscost? WhatdoyoumeanIdon’thavenenough? It’s not for the faint of heart.

But these librarians are missing the point. When you get caught up in the dollar signs and the overtime and the sore feet, you forget about the part that really matters. The reason you make all of those phone calls and count all of those pennies in the first place.

The Book Fair Magic.

Book Fair Magic is when a third grade boy promises to mow the lawn and clean the toilet so that his mom will buy him just one more graphic novel. It’s when a first grader puts one of her beloved books back so that she has enough money left to buy one for her baby brother. It’s when a second grade student writes such a long and detailed Scholarship essay that he needs three pages to hold it all.

Families bring Book Fair Magic, too. Book Fair Magic is when a pre-school parent buys a copy of his child’s favorite book for every student in her class. It’s when grandma says “Sorry, you can’t get that one,” and then sneaks back in after the child leaves to buy the whole series. It’s when a mom spends 25 minutes looking through every single graphic novel to find the one that will make her fifth grader want to stay up at night, sneaking more pages under the covers.

And of course, Johnson staff brings Book Fair Magic. Book Fair Magic is when a kindergarten teacher sponsors scholarships for students that she taught four years ago. It’s when a reading specialist spends her hard-earned paycheck to buy engaging and exciting new materials for her classroom to keep her students interested in reading – materials she could probably save a few bucks on if she just ordered them from Amazon. It’s when administrators vote for every single Book Fair Scholarship essay because they can’t possibly choose a favorite.


Yes, Book Fair is time consuming. And it’s not easy. But it’s worth it.

Our Fall Book Fair will be open through Monday, October 12th. Buy new books, enter our Book Fair Raffle, donate to our Book Fair Scholarship Fund. Or just stop by to experience a little bit of magic.

The 2015 Fall Book Fair has arrived!



No, you haven’t lost track of time and skipped the months of October and November – don’t worry! This year, Johnson’s first Book Fair is earlier than usual. And it’s not just the spot on the calendar that has changed – you might notice that our whole Book Fair is NEW and IMPROVED!

Thanks to our friends at Bedford Falls, we have triple the selection of high quality, educational titles to choose from! From non-fiction to easy readers to award winners, there are hundreds and hundreds of titles to browse, buy, and take home to your family.


We also have some special interest sections, including a military display, reference display, and origami display complete with special origami paper and activities! Also, don’t miss our $5.00 or less tables, which feature books priced as low as $2.95!

Shop any time during school hours this week, with your student or even on your own for birthday or holiday gifts 😉 Or shop with your family this Wednesday, October 7th, at the PTO Fall Festival from 5:00-7:00 PM.


Finally, make sure you stop by our Fall Book Fair Raffle. Bedford Falls donated more than TWENTY BOOKS for our raffle basket which means that if your ticket is drawn, you could win all of those titles plus a selection of toys and prizes AND a Books on Bikes tshirt. Tickets are $3.00 each or two for $5.00 and the winner will be drawn next Monday, October 12. Every penny raised from Book Fair Raffle sales goes towards funding Book Fair Scholarships for Johnson students!


You can read more about Johnson’s Book Fair Scholarship program, now in its third year, here. If you’d like to help out, contact me any time at messhas1@charlottesvilleschools.org! 

Coming Soon: 2015 Fall Book Fair!


There’s a little bit of extra excitement in the air, and I don’t think it’s just to cooling temperatures. With fall comes leaves, pumpkins, apple cider… and of course, the Learning Leopard Library Book Fair!

Join us October 5-12 for the library’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Purchase great titles for fun and educational reading and support your favorite school library! All proceeds from the Fall Book Fair will go towards purchasing materials for the Johnson Elementary School Library. Shop during your library time, before school (7:40AM), or after school (until 3:00PM). Or come shop with the whole family at the Fall Festival the evening of Wednesday, October 7th!

And don’t forget about our Book Fair Scholarship Raffle! You can purchase tickets with cash at the Book Fair and enter to win books, games, and prizes! The winner will be chosen on Monday, October 12th. 100% of the money raised from our Book Fair Scholarship Raffle will fund Book Fair Scholarships for hard working and deserving Johnson students.

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See you tomorrow for our special Preview Day, and then Monday to shop til you drop!

Miss Messham

Student Spotlight: Gloria


This morning live on the Johnson morning announcements, I shared the winner of our Spring Book Fair Raffle. Just in case you forgot about all of the awesome stuff up for grabs, here’s a little reminder:


Tickets were on sale all last week at the Spring Book Fair, and thanks to shoppers like you, raffle ticket sales and donations raised enough money to pay for more than 50 Book Fair Scholarships. And one very special Grand Prize Scholarship, which you can learn about here!

Lots of tickets, lots of prizes, but only one winner. This is normally the part where I try to explain to you how excited our winner was, to share how much prizes like these mean to the students that win. But this year, I’ll let the photos do the talking.




Thank you to Mrs. Rickabaugh for snapping these awesome photos of Gloria’s big moment!

If Gloria’s name sounds familiar, that’s because she’s been featured on the blog before. Gloria has written multiple Student Book Reviews that have made the cut to be published (you can read her most recent one here) and has had many Google drive files shared. You might recognize that smiling face from multiple examples of great behavior in our This Week in Photos posts, or from her sweet dance moves as a part of the Let’s Move club.

“I never thought I would win!”, Gloria said as I dropped the basket off in her classroom. “I never win anything.” When I asked her how she felt about being the big winner, she grinned so hard she could barely speak – but did manage to get out a quiet, “I am so excited.”

Gloria has been a big part of the Learning Leopard Library blog, and is a perfect example of the hard working, kind, and generous students that we have at Johnson. Congratulations, Gloria! (And congratulations to her little brother, Harrison, who I saw celebrating in the hall this morning. He was pretty confident that his big sister was going to share!)


Thanks for all that you do to make Book Fair Scholarships, Raffles, and other fun library activities possible. If you’d like to get involved, contact me via email at messhas1@charlottesvilleschools.org!

Last Day for the Spring 2015 Book Fair







Today is the last day to shop at the Spring 2015 BOGO Book Fair! Stop in before 3:00 this afternoon to get great books at great prices. While you’re here, don’t miss your chance to buy a ticket for our Spring Book Fair Raffle – you could win a big basket of games, toys, books, and Books in Bikes stuff, like a t-shirt and VIP passes to our Books on Bikes Summer Kickoff Parade!


This year’s Spring Book Fair has been fabulous, and it’s all because of YOU! We had record-breaking sales for a BOGO fair and I’m thrilled to share that every single one of our Book Fair Scholarships was funded via raffle ticket sales and donations. All additional funds raised from our Book Fair Raffle go into a special account to fund Book Fair Scholarships for our next Book Fair. Find our more about our Book Fair Scholarships here, and don’t forget to check out this year’s Grand Prize Scholarship Winner. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Student Spotlight: Laniyah


Welcome to a new series for the Learning Leopard Library blog – Student Spotlight. Check out Student Spotlight posts to learn more about some of the students that make the Johnson Elementary School Library so awesome!

Today’s spotlight is on Laniyah, a Johnson second grader. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Laniyah is one of the hardest working students I’ve ever met. Her teachers agree that her focus and determination are second to none. She worked on her Scholarship Essay for three days, and wrote it in her very best handwriting.

Laniyah is a dedicated reader, and she shared this in her Scholarship Essay. “Reading is fun and I love it so much,” she said. “Reading helps me learn.”

The Book Fair Scholarship Committee reads through student essays with names hidden for unbiased voting. Laniyah’s essay received the most votes, making her our Grand Prize Scholarship Winner! She was so excited, she was too speechless for an interview – but a picture is worth a thousand words.


Congratulations to Laniyah, our Spring Book Fair Grand Prize Scholarship Winner! Your hard work and dedication bring so much to the Johnson family. Keep up the amazing work!

Thank you so much for your help in funding our Book Fair Scholarship Program. Thanks to your help, many hard working Johnson students like Laniyah will have books of their own to enjoy over the summer, helping them to become better readers and more successful students.