Edgar, a fifth grader at Burton Elementary School, is one of the 21 students who attend the Cook Library Center who can proudly call himself a Cook Library Achiever. As a student who visits the library daily, he enjoys art, recycling, and playing soccer. His favorite creative activity is drawing cars. Edgar’s parents, who emigrated from Mexico, are agricultural workers; his father harvests flowers, and his mother carrots. Although his family’s primary language is Spanish, Edgar is learning to read and write in both English and Spanish, giving him the distinct skill of being a bilingual and biliterate child. Edgar sees his career being a necessary step to personal success. He said, “I want to save money to buy my very own house.” In fact, he looks forward to painting it himself.
Young Edgar is a great example of how the Cook Library Achievers program allows for students who are not enrolled in the Cook Library Scholars program to still receive the attention, tutoring, mentorship and guidance that they deserve. The program, sometimes warmly referred to as “The Overachievers,” mirrors the Cook Library Scholars. Participants get a name tag, have a meal time, receive homework help and tutoring, have their homework reviewed, and are guided to read for 20 minutes. Once those activities are finished, they are invited to play fun spelling or math games.
Sue Garza, Director of the Cook Library Center, said that the achievers are treated with exceptional care. The program has proven to be a safe space that allows youth who cannot be a part of the scholars due to capacity limitations, scheduling conflicts, or simply the fact that they are not neighborhood residents, to still grow from the enriching programs that are offered at the Cook Library Center on a daily basis. Being committed to providing engaging afterschool programs to the youth in the neighborhood, she reflected, “It’s really important for me as the director of our local library to help the community as a whole.”
Edgar, a fifth grader and Cook Library Achiever, works on his homework with a volunteer