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!

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.

Coming Soon: Spring BOGO Book Fair!


Update (5/15): Did you catch the error on the flyer? Please don’t come in for make up shopping on Monday, May 25th – the school will be closed! Instead, make-up shoppers can stop by the book fair on Tuesday, May 26th to get their shopping on.

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The Spring BOGO Book Fair and is almost here!

This flyer came home in student folders earlier this week. But just in case you missed the details, check it out!

Shop with your student between 7:40 AM-3:00 PM, from Monday, May 18th through Monday, May 25th. Or shop with the whole family at the Spring Concert the evening of Thursday, May 21st!

Adults may pay with cash, check, or credit card. Students may pay with cash or check. Please make checks out to Johnson Elementary School.

Don’t forget about our Spring Book Fair Raffle! This sale funds our Book Fair Scholarships, helping to buy new, quality books for students in need. Learn more about our Book Fair Scholarship Fund and read the essays of past winners here.

Interested in volunteering? Contact me via the information above. I’d love to have you!

2014 Winter Book Fair Scholarship Grand Prize Winners


This year, thanks to generous donations from Johnson staff and families, we were able to fund more than eighty Book Fair Scholarships for deserving Johnson students. A Book Fair Scholarship provides students with financial assistance to purchase a brand new book of their choice from the Book Fair. This experience provides students with more than just a new book to read – it also gives them a huge sense of pride and accomplishment, and shows them that their hard work is noticed and appreciated.

During each Book Fair, nominated students are given the opportunity to write an essay to be entered for a Book Fair Scholarship. This fair’s essay question was a simple one – Why are books important to you?

Before long, the essays started pouring in. Some students wrote so much that they had to go onto the back of the paper; others attached extra pages of doodles and poems; a few even provided full color illustrations. But every single essay had something in common – they were all created by hard working, vibrant students that love to read.

Thanks to the funds raised this year, the Learning Leopard Library was able to add a brand new, grand prize to the Johnson Book Fair Scholarship program. When committee members (which include teachers, administrators, and parents) read through the finished essays, they placed votes for their top five. All of the votes were collected and counted, and the five essays with the most votes were named Grand Prize Scholarship winners. A Grand Prize Scholarship provides students with $10 to shop at the Book Fair, as well as a certificate.

Congratulations to Angel, Gloria, Natya, Noordin, Mena, and Blessing, our 2014 Book Fair Scholarship Grand Prize winners! Below, you can find some of their award winning essays, which have been cropped and edited for privacy. Please take a moment to read these students’ commendable work about the importance of reading.






If you are interested in making a donation or volunteering on behalf of the Johnson Book Fair Scholarship Fund, please contact Miss Messham at messhas1@charlottesvilleschools.org.

Book Fair Scholarship Essays


Johnson Elementary School is a community of very active, very passionate readers. (Our 300 students in grades K-4 checked out more than 19,000 books between September and May!) The Spring Book Fair is an amazing opportunity for students to purchase quality books to take home and read over the summer. But there is one major obstacle keeping some of these voracious readers from spending their summers flipping pages – many of them cannot afford books to keep at home. Commonly, these same students have no way to make it to the public library over the summer; once school is out next Friday, some will lose their access to literature for more than two months. For those students, we have worked together to create Book Fair Scholarships to help their dreams come true.

While teachers and community members were purchasing tickets for the Fiesta Raffle in the library, raising funds for the Book Fair Scholarship Program, students around the school were filling out Book Fair Scholarship Applications. The idea behind the Scholarship Application was to make their free book something that they earned. I warned students as I handed out applications – no handouts here! Work hard, do your best, and show me why you deserve a book. Students were nominated by homeroom teachers based on need, academic accomplishments, and citizenship. The applications asked students to finish one simple sentence: “I should win a  Book fair Scholarship because…”

When I created the Book Fair Scholarship Application, I had no idea of the incredible essays that I would receive in response. I also didn’t know the sense of joy, accomplishment, and pride that students would share with me when they were awarded their certificates. Reading these essays and celebrating the students’ accomplishments brought me so much happiness. Now, I want to share just a small sampling of them with you.

I think I should win a Book Fair Scholarship because…. I was born to read. I love books, I just love them that I don’t even care what book it is, but I mean the books not too hard and not too easy, just right. I also remember the first book I ever read. It also feels really good to read.

Third grade Johnson student


I think I should win a Book Fair Scholarship because…. I love books so much, it make me smart. I love books it is good. I love the books so much it makes you like very very smart. I love books because it is mine. I will not rip it, I real careful. I love the library so much it’s fun. I love the books so much. I love the Book Fair.

First grade Johnson student

I think I should win a Book Fair Scholarship because… I do not have a lot of books at home, and I like to read. And reading is fun to me. And sometimes my brother likes to read. And sometimes we have fun. And sometimes learn a thing to draw.

Second grade Johnson student


I think I should win a Book Fair Scholarship because…. I have worked so hard in class and I help people with some things. I do good in class and I real love reading because it takes me on adventures and books exploring people.

Second grade Johnson student

I think I should win a Book Fair Scholarship because… so that I can get so good at reading. That I can get up to Quest (the gifted program). Just like my sister.

First grade Johnson student


I think I should win a Book Fair Scholarship because…. so that I can read better and so that I can get my reading in more and so I can share it with my baby sister. And read it to her. So when she go to school she will know a little bit how to read. And that when she gets to 2nd grade she can read to my mom and me and my little brother and my dad.

Second grade Johnson student

I think I should win a Book Fair Scholarship because… I love to read. My favorite book is about dogs. I really really can take care of it. I have a safe place to put it, it is in my room where I can put it in and when I feel like reading it, I can take it out and read it.

First grade Johnson student


I think I should win a Book Fair Scholarship because…. If I get a book, I will be so happy that I will read it everyday. The more books I get the more I’ll learn!

First grade Johnson student

I need to read over the summer. I have two books already. I can read really good. I am smart. I deserve to win a free book.

First grade Johnson student

I love to read all kinds of books. The more books I read the better reader I will become. If I read lots of books I will be smart.

First grade Johnson student

Thank you so much for your help in funding our Book Fair Scholarship Program. Thanks to your help, more than SIXTY Johnson students will have books of their own to enjoy over the summer – some of them for the first time.

Our Book Fair Scholarship Program is growing and changing! If you would like to be a part of the team that helps raise money to purchase books for deserving Johnson students, please contact me at messhas1@charlottesvilleschools.org.