Locks for the library

Kevin Holamon | Brownwood Bulletin kevin.holamon@brownwoodbulletin.com
A Woodland Heights Elementary first grade teacher is seriously dedicated the students. As a fundraiser for the school's library Loma Blake will shave her head if the goal of $5,000 is reached by the end of the school year.

Everyone knows teaching is a profession full of dedicated men and women, but one Woodland Heights Elementary first grade teacher is standing out as exceptionally zealous.

Loma Blake, teaching at Woodland for the second time for a total of 16 years, recognized a need within her school and came up with an idea to raise funds to fill that need.

The goal is to raise $5,000 for the school's library by the end of the school year and she has encouraged the whole campus to get involved. The hook is, if successful, Blake has volunteered to have her head shaved on the last day of school.

"The primary focus in first grade is reading," Blake said. "And encouraging students to read and love books."

Typically, to encourage all of the students to read, they are permitted to check out four books from the library simultaneously. Unfortunately, according to Blake, increased class sizes at Woodland Heights and statewide budget cuts affecting school libraries, there just aren't enough books to go around. As a result, the school has had to ask the students to limit themselves to two books at a time.

Blake said the average cost of a library book, across all grade levels, is about $19.

"It takes a lot of money to keep the books current," she said. "And to replace worn books."

With almost 500 students at Woodland Heights, Blake said there are more books checked out per week than any other BISD campus.

Like other schools, Woodland Heights participates in an accelerated reading program in which students advance in certification levels by reading books outside of school and passing associated tests. In order to keep kids excited about the program, the library needs a large variety of books that are updated regularly.

"We have some avid readers here," Blake said.

The fundraiser has already received its first donation, from Doris Pairish, who is a retired principal of Woodland Heights.

While on the topic of books and reading, Blake stressed the importance of parents reading to their pre-school aged children and how it teaches children basics of language, such as cadence and rhythm. 

"If parents would commit time to reading to their children," Blake said, "we would see a big difference in early success in school."

At this time, donations of cash or books may be dropped off at or mailed to the Woodland Heights Elementary office, located at 3900 4th St. Plans are to have a website established for PayPal donations, as well as to have special T-shirts available for purchase.

No donation is too large or too small and Blake encouraged local businesses and industries to get involved as an investment in the future of the community.