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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Help? My classrooms have maps from the 60’s?!

Over the years I have been passionate about ensuring teachers have accurate social studies, history, and geography materials available in their rooms. I remember growing up incredibly bored in my classes and spending the majority of my time reading or staring at the photographs and maps around the classroom. After moving to Nashville, I realized that my elementary school was woefully outdated and ill-supplied (hence the title of this post). I needed help to create a plan that would reveal what we had, what was missing, where the gaps were, and what we’d need to close those gaps. So, I called in my buddies at Nystrom. 

My Nystrom reps inventoried the school for me, provided detailed lists of every map and globe in the building with ages and information about whether the subject of the maps was appropriate.  This enabled me to shift maps that were too easy to younger classrooms, and more detailed maps to older classrooms. The Nystrom reps sat with me to identify the appropriate materials that should be in the classroom and we developed potential shopping lists. They even fixed some of the broken maps and showed me how to properly hang them.

With information in hand, I was able to approach my administrators with our needs and a possible solution. None ever denied our need, but all expressed concern that since they couldn’t cover all the needs, would it be fair to start with some of the rooms? My response was always "BEGIN!" Knowing the teachers and who was open to training and using new resources, I could prioritize to help the administration develop a practical plan for implementation. 

Then it was a glorious hunt to locate sponsors for classrooms. Local businesses jumped at the idea of providing one map and one globe for a classroom. Some businesses asked to sponsor entire grade levels. This is a project that they could buy into without long-term commitment. 

Within 1.5 years we were able to supply every classroom of the elementary school with up-to-date maps and globes. I also watched for workshop opportunities that involve free materials, so I could attend and distribute these to classes. I was willing to stay in touch with coordinators during the summer just in case they had materials that needed to be moved out of warehouses to prepare for new shipments. I knew and I had the documentation as to who needed the supplies.

This brings us to this year and my moving to a middle school. As I walked the hallways, I soon realized that some reading classrooms had maps, but not the geography classrooms. While I support anchoring stories in the real world, shouldn’t there be some priority setting? You can guess what I did. I called my buddy Joseph DuLaney at Nystrom to help again. 

Not only did Joseph come to my building to conduct an inventory. He also worked with the teachers during their planning times to assess whether they were correctly using the materials they had. He offered to come several times to help train new teachers on practical uses. He also helped me delve through all the geographical material that traveled around with the library collection while the middle school moved from building to building. With his assistance I could make decisions about whether the library should store 75 copies of some of the atlases or whether these were past their prime. He could glance at the set and tell me not only which grade level they were intended, but also whether they were the most current set or not, and if any components were missing. 

Since my school is a blend of teachers, Joseph recognized former clients that he had trained. Each of them raved about his expertise and willingness to provide training. He had built a relationship with them over the years.

At first I was leery about asking Joseph for help because there was no guarantee that we would have funds immediately to make purchases this year. He quickly reassured me that Nystrom is in the school market for the long-term. 

The services my Nystrom rep provided help us build a relationship for the years to come. Aha! Joseph is helping plan for the future not just provide resources from our past.