- Fulton County Schools
E.C. West ES Media Assistant Creates Fantasy World
Teri Stewart served as an assistant at Evoline C. West Elementary for over twenty years and a beloved media assistant for eight years. She began working for Fulton County Schools (FCS) 38 years ago as a Behavior Disorders Assistant. Through the years, she's created a fantasy world in the E. C. West media center to ignite a love of reading.
"Ms. Stewart has been a treasure to our school," said Principal Jennifer Burton. "She transformed our traditional media center into a magical forest where students' imaginations come alive. Not only are students reading in the media center, but discovering and exploring things from our past. Ms. Stewart has filled the media center with things like a spinning wheel, a typewriter, metal roller skates and a rotary phone."
Retiring recently to care for her 87 year-old mother, Stewart has returned to volunteer in the place she loves. "I liked seeing kids every day," Stewart said. "I enjoyed most bringing things in for them to look at in the media center. I tried to decorate to make them want to read."
As Read Across America Day celebrates the importance of reading in March, Stewart's commitment to exposing young scholars to things they've never seen is apparent. From elephant tusks to microscopes, she's brought things to the media center so students could inspect them. "The gooier the microscope the better," she said. "I've put earwax, pond water, and even baby mosquitoes on the microscope to make it interesting."
To encourage reading, Stewart created "Bean Bag Beach," a space where students sit on bean bags with sunglasses on and read. "This is for fourth and fifth graders," she said. "It's just a fun place where they can come and read for fifteen minutes a day." Pictures of fourth and fifth graders in sunglasses line the walls outside the Evoline C. West media center. Today, as she returns as a volunteer, those same students come and hug her, visibly excited. "Ms. Stewart are you coming back?" asked fifth grader Denarius Jackson. "I'm volunteering, she said."
Her creations for the media center include "The Three Bears", a "Goosebumps" exhibit with "Books to Scare Your Pants Off" and a look at items like phonographs.
Stewart is excited to see that the Eaglecam, featuring Berry College eagles in their natural habitat, is still engaging students. "They can see the eagles live, 24-7," she said. "Kids can even watch it at home." In her time as an E. C. West media assistant, she's seen students watch eagle babies hatch, mother eagles taking care of their babies, and the fledglings wobbling around. "I tell the students what the eagles are doing is like what your parents do at home. I love nature."
"The E. C. West media center is a place that all students, staff and community members want to visit, and this is solely due to Ms. Stewart's creativity and love of this community," said Principal Burton.
"I love this school and the people that work here," Stewart said. "I've been with these teachers long enough to consider them family."