work book photo

By Elissa B. Davis

I drew a sharp breath as I stared at my daughter’s laptop screen. Apparently, many years after I completed school, train A is still chugging at a rate of speed slower than train B, which can only be determined by algebraic equations and graphs. These must be the same slow trains that block traffic in Vincennes.

Younger me scoffed at the idea this information would become relevant as an adult. Younger me questioned why, when, and where I would need to apply these formulas. Adult me now understands. My child’s virtual learning has become the standardized testing of my adult aptitude.

There is an inexpressible depth of gratitude to former and current educators across the spectrum. This group includes all purveyors of knowledge, such as teachers, librarians, and even family. Testing and teaching creates capabilities, skills, and successes that drive the importance of education in our lives. Educators have adapted to insurmountable change throughout their years of service, especially in 2020. They are rock stars who help define our roles as youth and further into adulthood. The year 2020 is easily recognized as a year of learning and testing. Educators, scientists, doctors, cashiers, cooks, and stay-at-home parents have evolved their current practices in order to adapt to ongoing changes. We have altered our lives and livelihoods. Our minds have been tested for information and patience. Our bodies have been tested for COVID-19. And our absolute resolve for a brighter future has been repeatedly tested through trials and tribulations. These are difficult feats we are incredibly striving to overcome.

Learning and testing are lifelong afflictions humans must embrace. Even as adults, challenges arise that require research, questions, and advice. Whether we realize it or not, our minds are constantly organizing and storing information for further usage. Every time we make a decision, our remarkable brains are tested through emotional and credible logic.

Throughout this year of learning and testing, accessing information was readily available at our fingertips. 2020 quickly became a virtual year. Some encountered virtual learning, doctor visits, and even virtual classes at the library. Many browsed the web, purchased cars and groceries online, and completed home projects while watching YouTube videos. There is a world of information and we found ways to grasp, utilize, and share it with others.

Also adjusting to the new reality of virtual information and educational opportunities is the Knox County Public Library. Aside from books, there are various resources available online and in-person such as Niche Academy, Inspire, DVD documentaries, language learning materials, tutoring, mobile hotspots, computer access, and the aforementioned virtual classes. KCPL further provides local and remote access to numerous online educational databases for all ages. Children and adults are encouraged to peruse the library’s Web site and their North Seventh Street location to discover an abundance of wonderful materials.

With the rise of Covid-19 in the county and the increase of quarantine measures at local schools, accessing information and reference material is critical to area youth. The library youth department has developed supportive framework to assist students with preschool through high school core curriculum subjects. Brain Quest series workbooks and complete curriculum for grades one through six are available. There are also test prep books for seventh and eighth grade which target subject areas covered by most state standardized tests. One of my favorite collections for middle and high school learning is the “Everything You Need to Ace in One Big Fat notebook” series. These books cover a range of courses such as American history, computer science and coding, English language arts, math, science, chemistry, and world history. They also provide practice pages, strategies, and tips to build test-taking confidence and skills. Call youth librarian, Roger, or visit the library to create a personalized learning support packet that includes worksheets tailored to students’ needs.

Thank you to the Knox County Community Foundation COVID fund and the Indiana Humanities CARES grant (COVID-19 grant) for providing funding to the library to hire three school teachers from Riley Elementary School, Vincennes, to offer math and reading videos online for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Meeting State of Indiana Curriculum Standards, these videos were produced to fill in the gap for students who have lost time in the classroom because of the pandemic. Many caregivers are unable to afford to pay for tutoring for their children to catch up academically. You can find these videos on the KCPL Tutor Team YouTube channel or on the library’s Facebook page.

The library will continue to expand its wealth of collective knowledge and resources to create unity while accommodating community needs. Therefore, the library recently extended their hours to include Monday-Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Curbside pickup and online book reservations are still available. With a quick phone call, the click of a mouse, or an onsite visit, library staff is available to provide assistance and guidance as needed.

On a final note, thank you to the librarians, math instructors, and tutors from my childhood. I was finally able to exhale, while staring at my daughter’s computer screen. Twenty years later, I am still able to create an equation to represent that train A is 2.374 hours behind train B’s ridiculously long trip to Baton Rouge. You are not only my hero, but also my daughter’s.

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