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Read all about it: Mowrey Elementary School library wins $40,000 furniture makeover

The Record Herald | Yahoo!News February 5, 2024

By Shawn Hardy, The Record Herald


The Mowrey Elementary School library will get a $40,000 makeover as a winner in furniture manufacturer KI’s second annual school giveaway competition.

Online voting placed Mowrey first among the three libraries that were finalists in the contest.

The backstory: Help Mowrey Elementary library win a $40K makeover

Of the 62,000 votes cast for 12 finalists entered in four divisions, more than 10,000 were for Mowrey, according to librarian Jennifer Smith.

This is a floor plan for the Mowrey Elementary School library Jennifer Smith entered in the KI makeover contest.

She learned that at 3:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 2, when she couldn’t sleep and logged on to see the results.

Winning design offers flexibility

“I was over the moon,” said Smith, who is librarian at both Mowrey and Hooverville elementaries in the Waynesboro Area School District.

She submitted a design to give Mowrey’s library a coffeehouse feel, featuring flexible areas with a variety of seating options and a fixed instructional space.

Students learned about the win at school Friday morning.

“My first class was cheering for me and expected the furniture to be here,” said Smith.

She is waiting to learn about the next steps from KI. A press release about the contest said furniture installations would take place between Presidents’ Day and spring break.

It will be a hub for students

“For her elementary school library media center, Mrs. Smith created an inviting, colorful and multifunctional space to serve as a collaborative hub for her students,” KI said in a press release announcing the winners.

"Jennifer’s design, like all of the selected finalists, used adaptability as a foundation to support multiple uses, from individual and collaborative work to classroom instruction and staff meetings,” said Bryan Ballegeer, KI's vice president of education market.

“Adapting to the unique needs of the students and staff in the room is essential for a modern school library,” he continued. “Her furniture selection emphasized student comfort and allowed students to choose their own learning position based on their specific needs. Jennifer also directly engaged her students about their study preferences and arranged the room so that all students can easily move throughout the whole library."

KI makes furniture and wall systems for education, healthcare, government and corporate markets.

KI received hundreds of entries in four categories: Eastern, Central, Western and Libraries. The list was narrowed to three finalists in each for the online voting.

Other winners were Danielle Ortiz of Bethlehem Elementary School in Taylorsville, N.C.; Ashley Wilkirson of Northern Elementary School in Lexington, Ky., and Teresa Youssofi of Loma Verde Elementary School in Chula Vista, Calif.

"We offer our sincere congratulations to Danielle, Ashley, Teresa, and Jennifer," Ballegeer said. "We know all teachers care deeply for their students and community, and KI is thrilled to support these four educators in making their dream spaces a reality."

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