The Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood is committed to supporting successful educational outcomes for the children of the Central neighborhood. We know that education starts at home, and parents are truly a child’s first teacher. Research shows that the simple presence of books in the home is linked to a child’s educational success.
Promise is proud to have worked with Central residents and partners to establish some of the 11 Little Free Libraries around the neighborhood. These “take a book, leave a book” structures invite residents of all ages to browse a selection of stocked titles and take them home to read.
As part of the ongoing #PromiseReads initiative, Promise recently presented six new Little Free Libraries to the Central neighborhood, thanks to a generous donation from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. In an October event at the Sterling Branch of the Cleveland Public Library, Promise engagement manager Joe Black spoke to the stewards of the new libraries about what it means to care for and support a Little Free Library.
Stewards all received book donations on behalf of the Kids Book Bank and Cleveland Public Library, as well as a supply from Anthem. Promise Ambassador Gwen Garth, a staple of Central’s art community, plans to fill the library she stewards with crayons, coloring books and additional art supplies for the neighborhood. Felton Thomas, executive director of Cleveland Public Library, and Margaret Bernstein, director of advocacy at WKYC, joined the event to talk about the value of Little Free Libraries in our communities, right alongside the invaluable resource of the public libraries.
The Sterling Branch of Cleveland Public Library was recently featured in The Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com for its role as a vital resource for the children of the Central community. Located at 2220 East 30th street, Sterling library is a home away from home for many children in Central. More from Cleveland.com:
The mission of libraries has changed: Once focused on feeding minds, they now feed souls, and stomachs, too.
At close to 3:30 on a recent Wednesday afternoon, uniformed children run around the grounds of Marion Sterling Elementary School, releasing pent-up energy from a long day of classes. School has been in session for just over two weeks, and summer freedom is fresh in their minds.
Soon, the students gather into small groups of friends and cross East 30th street, just south of Olde Cedar, a CMHA housing project. Security guard Sam Darden stands on the steps of the Sterling Branch of Cleveland Public Library and greets them. Spending time at the library is a routine that is fixed and familiar all summer, after school, on weekends, and during school breaks.
Most of the children head to the community room, where they know they’ll get an after-school meal. There is some pushing and shoving in line among the rambunctious group as library branch manager Monica Rudzinski records each student’s name for The Cleveland Food Bank’s Kids Cafe, which sponsors the food program.
“Libraries aren’t just about information anymore,” says Rudzinski, wiping down a table to get it ready for the next wave of students. “We are about helping the community get the services they need.”
The library finds lots of ways to nourish their young patrons. Members of the Cleveland Orchestra have played at the library. Area artists donate time to help students explore different ways to be creative. Cleveland State students offer tutoring help.
“Part of the history and tradition of this branch — caring for children — has always been what Sterling is about,” said Rudzinski. “I sensed it when I came here five years ago. You feel it, and you continue it.”
She says children are waiting at the door when the library opens on weekends.
“Some will come in here on a Saturday and tell me they have a headache,” she says. “Right away I think, ‘Do they need glasses?’ But we know the kids are just hungry. So we get big bags of cereal for not much money, and we can feed them on the weekend. There might be an ice cream truck that comes around in the summer, so we will buy them ice cream treats. Just impromptu things like that, other kids might take for granted. But there is no ice cream store anywhere near here.”
Angela Csia, children’s librarian, says that at their 6,500-square-foot branch, they give out lunches every weekday, 10,000 a year. “They never taught that in grad school,” she says.
“These kids have a certain numbness, I don’t think ‘war zone’ is an exaggeration,” she says, her eyes tearing up. “Recently, at 5 p.m., in broad daylight, a 32-year-old man was shot and killed just down the street. It’s a busy intersection. Some kids were witnesses. Student after student came in to tell us about it, and they said it matter-of-factly, with no emotion. Imagine what it does to your body and your psyche to have to be on constant alert.”
She looks over the students now in the library. It is nearing 5 p.m., and most of the kids don’t look like they plan to leave any time soon. “It’s one thing not to have food or a cell phone, but if you don’t feel safe, or don’t feel like you can sleep,” she shakes her head, knowing that is the case with many of these children. But, she says, she is glad that the library and the staff can provide a safe space that the youths can count on every day.
“It isn’t about books,” she says. “It’s about relationships and caring.”
Read the full story from Cleveland.com and see more photos here.
Sterling library and Woodland library, located at 5806 Woodland Ave.) offer free tutoring. Get dates and details here.
Cleveland Public Library is offering free tutoring sessions through out the city of Cleveland and at two of its library branches in Central. The Sterling library and Woodland library have tutoring and homework help available on a variety of school subjects Monday through Thursday. Individual or small group tutoring allows students to receive a level of attention that’s difficult to obtain in large classrooms. Tutoring also helps raise children’s self-esteem as the student begins to experience success.
Tutoring in reading for children in kindergarten through third grade is available from 4 – 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday at the Woodland branch of the Cleveland Public Library. Reading tutoring and support for K – 3 students is offered at the library in partnership with Braxton Education and Technology Consulting. The Woodland branch is located at 5806 Woodland Ave, Cleveland, Ohio.
Students who don’t read at grade level by third grade often have a difficult time catching up as they progress through school. If your child is having difficulty reading or could use a more support, now is the time to start for K-3 students and take advantage of free tutoring opportunities available in Central.
Both the Sterling library branch and Woodland library have one-on-one or group tutoring and homework help available for kindergarten through 8th grade in math, science, history and language arts. These support sessions are available from 3 – 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday and are offered in partnership with Cleveland State University’s America Reads tutoring services. The Sterling library branch is located at 2200 E30th Street, Cleveland, Ohio.
The complete list of Cleveland Public Library tutoring sessions and locations is available here.
Woodland Wonderland Stay and Play Room is a place for families with children ages 0-5 to enjoy a fun playroom for both parent and child. Parents are their children’s first teacher. The Play Room promotes parent-child engagement, stimulates language and motor skills, and exposes parent and child to a preschool-like setting.
Open 4-6 p.m. Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Wednesdays at Woodland branch of Cleveland Public Library, 5806 Woodland Ave.
More than 80 parents and 115 children came to the Play Room between Sept. 1 and mid-January.
The scorching heat didn’t diminish the great work of Cleveland Job Corps students and staff, the Promise and Friendly Inn Settlement volunteers and everyone else that came out to help bring six new Little Free Libraries for the Promise Neighborhood.
We can’t thank all our partners enough, including Friendly Inn Settlement, Young Audiences Northeast Ohio, A Cultural Exchange, Cleveland Public Library and Ohio Center for the Book, FABLAB, Mc2 Stem, Family Connections, BVU and the volunteers from PNC.