On September 6, 1955, Greenbriar Elementary School first opened its doors in Fort Worth, Texas.
Today, Greenbriar has 38 classrooms, including a computer lab and a library. Greenbriar offers the following programs: Gifted and Talented, Dual Language, ESL, PPCD, PPCD Inclusion, LINC, tutorials, and more. The school is part of the Fort Worth Independent School District and serves more than 500 pre-K–5 students from a variety of different backgrounds in the heart of Texas.
The challenge: Providing high-interest reading materials
Christine Yanger, the school’s librarian, is the heartbeat of Greenbriar and has more than 15 years of experience as a librarian at the elementary- and middle-school levels. A firm believer in the power of Accelerated Reader, Christine has witnessed Accelerated Reader over the years transition from physical floppy disks to cloud-based software with more than 200,000 quizzes. In fact, she even piloted the first rollout of Star Spanish!
Despite having a strong reading program in place, when Greenbriar and other schools in the district shut down in March 2020 to slow the spread of COVID-19, Christine and Lindsay Staros Guajardo, Principal at Greenbriar, were uncertain about how to provide high-interest reading materials to their students and families.
“In our state testing scores, we’ve gone from a ‘D’ to a ‘B’ ranking,” said Christine. “We’ve made tremendous gains these past few years at Greenbriar and we didn’t want to lose that.”
“We’ve made tremendous gains these past few years at Greenbriar and we didn’t want to lose that.”
“When our students went virtual, Renaissance gave our district access to a free trial of myON,” recalled Lindsay. “That’s when our students tried myON for the first time, but it’s really Christine who helped motivate our students and keep them engaged in reading while our school was closed.”
“My fear in March and April was that the love of reading we’ve fostered on campus would disappear,” said Christine. “I was thrilled our students and their families embraced myON. When everyone came back to the campus after the summer break, Lindsay and I knew how much Accelerated Reader and myON made sense together.”
The results: A flourishing reading culture
That uncertain feeling at the start of spring quickly disappeared. Students took to myON and the flourishing reading culture at Greenbriar continued—despite students being at home with limited access to the school’s library. It warmed Christine’s heart to see her students continue reading and growing.
In fact, after those first few weeks of using myON Lindsay asked if myON could be kept for the summer and beyond. Without hesitation, Christine said ‘yes.’
“Lindsay understands the big picture,” said Christine, as she smiled. “Sometimes, libraries and librarians need to explain the impact and importance of certain programs, but Lindsay understood. myON has an incredible variety of books and our students don’t have to worry about certain books being checked out since everything is digital. It’s a win-win.”
Paired with Accelerated Reader, students continued reading and taking quizzes on books, with the district turning on at-home quizzing for Greenbriar and other schools later that spring.
The importance of equity and access
Heading into fall 2021, Fort Worth Independent School District gave students and their families different options for attending school, all depending on how comfortable they felt.
“A big concern going into this past fall was equity and access,” said Lindsay. “We knew some of our students might be virtual and we didn’t want them to miss out. myON really helped us provide options.”
Traditionally, Christine has helped students explore Greenbriar’s library each fall, teaching students how to search for books in their recommended reading ranges, find books relevant to their interests, check out books, and more. However, with the pandemic and a hybrid learning environment in place, that changed everything.
Now, students get the best of both worlds, with the ability to visit the library and the ability to explore thousands of digital reading options on myON.
myON across the curriculum
When asked what made myON click at Greenbriar, Christine and Lindsay both pointed to the training from Renaissance Coaches on how to make the most of “Projects” in myON. Projects in myON let educators create custom assignments for students and curate content—from basic reading lists to more complex, extended projects.
“Our teachers jumped on board and started using the Projects in myON right away,” said Christine. “With the Projects, it made our teachers’ lives just a bit easier.”
“The Projects and the fact that our teachers can find books about the weather or the Earth’s climate in a few seconds makes it easy to use myON in other subject areas as well,” added Lindsay. “It’s a great resource for parents and families who can search for any genre and any reading level for their children.”
“It’s a great resource for parents and families who can search for any genre and any reading level for their children.”
Lindsay Staros Guajardo
In fact, now when teachers stop at the library, looking for books on certain topics for specific lessons, Christine can suggest another source, asking “Did you look on myON?”.
New excitement for reading
Despite the initial uncertainty due to the pandemic, Christine, Lindsay, the teachers, and the entire staff at Greenbriar are seeing the results of myON and Accelerated Reader being used together.
In fact, in a recent reading competition held within the district, known as Readers Become Leaders, a third-grade classroom at Greenbriar won in a landslide, with each student reading more than 669 minutes in just five weeks.
And while the students might be “myON crazy”, Christine and Lindsay both know it’s the result of teamwork and a testament to Greenbriar’s strong reading culture.