By Guest Blogger Tracy Huneycutt
“Readers Make Leaders!” A Local School’s Journey to Install a Book Vending Machine
Angelina Etter, the Media Specialist at Cornatzer Elementary School in Davie County, takes pride in establishing a vibrant and enjoyable learning atmosphere in the school’s Media Center. “My ultimate objective is to instill a genuine love for learning in my students, empowering them to become responsible and productive citizens in today’s ever-changing world. I am fully dedicated to fostering their communication and problem-solving skills, as these essential abilities will undoubtedly prove valuable in their future endeavors,” Mrs. Etter states.
Mrs. Etter’s educational career has spanned over two decades, and she has taught at various schools and grade levels within Davie County. She has a master’s degree in Instructional Media and is working towards completion of her second master’s degree, in Library and Information Science. Both as an educator and as a mother of four, she gains a sense of fulfillment in engaging children through reading.
Several years ago, Mrs. Etter came across the concept of a book vending machine on social media. Instantly captivated by this brilliant idea, she became determined to bring one to Cornatzer Elementary. Through her research, she discovered that bringing a book vending machine to a school can help increase student reading rates, can help promote literacy, and can be a fun and engaging way to cultivate a student’s love of reading. Mrs. Etter began exploring various brands, options, and quotes, and drafted an email proposal to her principal to bring the initiative to Cornatzer.
The Cornatzer community enthusiastically participated in fundraisers over the course of last school year in anticipation of adding this exciting machine to their Media Center. Mrs. Etter held creative fundraisers like grade-level Penny Wars (a coin drive,) offered contests for students to create book characters out of pumpkins (which generated funding through votes,) and hosted several book fairs. Once funds were secured, she sought permission from the county office to proceed with the purchase.
Mrs. Etter had a unique vision in mind for the machine and worked towards creating specific designs and colors, as well as the inclusion of the quote “Readers Make Leaders” on the side, before submitting her request to Global Book Vending Machines. Cornatzer Elementary readily waited two months for the completion of the machine and its delivery to the school.
To fill the machine with books once it was installed, Mrs. Etter sought donations from community members and local businesses. In the spring of 2023, Cornatzer Elementary held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for their book vending machine. Several district leaders, school administrators and teachers, local donors, Parent-Teacher Organization members, as well as Mrs. Etter’s husband and children attended the event. Collectively, they witnessed several Cornatzer students, including members of the “Battle of the Books” team, be the first to put a token in the machine and receive a book of their choosing. Cornatzer Elementary is honored to be the first school in Davie County to install a book vending machine.
During the remainder of the 2022-2023 school year, Mrs. Etter was able to provide every student from preschool through 5th grade with a token, distributing about 375 books. Regarding funding to fill the machine for subsequent school years, Mrs. Etter has reached out to local businesses in hopes of having monthly sponsors. For their generosity and support in encouraging student growth, she plans to recognize these sponsors and businesses on social media. Going forward, every student at Cornatzer will receive a vending machine token on their birthday, and students will receive an additional token for certain recognitions like being selected as “Reader of the Month” and achieving the highest level on their Super Improver Behavior Program.
Mrs. Etter states, “I was inspired to contribute to the increasing number of schools that promote literacy through the innovative approach of installing a book vending machine. My goal was to put books directly into children’s hands, helping them build home libraries one book at a time. This journey was quite extensive, but witnessing the joy on the kids’ faces as they select a book from the machine has made it all worthwhile. This is an ongoing initiative and not just a one-time event. I will need to persist in fundraising efforts to continuously restock the machine with books. The priceless moments of delight on the children’s faces make the continuous effort truly rewarding.”
She continues, “The book vending machine has received widespread appreciation from parents, staff, and students alike. The concept of promoting reading has been widely embraced and has proven to be a great success.”
If your local school has additional questions about the possibility of installing a book vending machine, Mrs. Etter is available to speak with fellow educators. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.