West Philadelphia school library transformed with STEM focus with help from nonprofit

Tuesday, June 20, 2023
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Roughly 100 volunteers were hard at work reorganizing the library and transforming the roof deck at Commodore John Barry Elementary in West Philadelphia Tuesday.

"We believe that every student deserves to have inspiring learning spaces and resources. Modern resources, books, technology, school supplies," said Pam Bryden of Heart of America.

Heart of America, a non-profit organization, put the plan together with the school district to create workspaces focusing on STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"They'll have a period where they get to get hands-on experience in the sciences and get creative, build robotics and do different projects, and really get exposed to different experiences they may not have otherwise," said Micah Winterstein, assistant principal at John Barry Elementary.

Volunteers with biopharmaceutical company Abbvie provided the working hands needed to help bring the vision to life.

"We're really scientists at the heart at what many of us do and that love starts at a young age, so we're excited that we can really give some other resources and opportunities to these kids here." said Ryan Heuer of Abbvie.

School administrators said that's what it's all about, sparking imagination and inspiring the workforce of the future.

"This gives scholars the opportunity to focus on something that's not academics, so scholars get the opportunity to choose hands-on activities that will promote their attendance in school," said Katiedra Argro, principal of John Barry Elementary.

Argro also said a teacher has been hired to help students navigate the new spaces when they return in the fall.
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