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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Nov 23, 2020

Colts Neck Teacher Wins National Scholastic Book Clubs Grant

By Shanna O'Mara

A Colts Neck teacher was recently named a winner of this year’s Scholastic Book Clubs & James Patterson Classroom Library Grant. For the sixth year, famed author Patterson and Scholastic Book Clubs have teamed up to grant chosen educators money to be used to bring books into their classrooms. The sweepstakes awards $500 to each chosen teacher to build their classroom libraries.

Kayla McKenna, a second grade teacher at Conover Road Elementary School, was notified this fall that she was among the 5,000 winners across the country. McKenna said she applied for the grant because she wanted to make more resources available to her students.

“This is my second year teaching, and I am still building and adding to my classroom library,” she said. “This grant will help me immensely in building a classroom library that has books of all interests and encourages a literacy-rich environment.”

McKenna said her students participate in individualized daily reading as part of the class’ curriculum. They are encouraged to read books at their level as well as books they simply chose for enjoyment.

“With my prize money, I plan on purchasing mentor texts to support our Writing Workshop curriculum in addition to several popular, new book series, such as ‘Dog Man,’ ‘The Princess in Black,’ ‘My Weird School’ and ‘Mighty Robot,’” she said. “I plan on buying these series because my classroom library is lacking books of these new series, and my students are very interested in them. Most of my classroom library is filled with books that I kept from my childhood and needs some updated titles.”

The Scholastic Book Clubs & James Patterson Classroom Library contest is open to any teacher in the United States who actively works in a kindergarten through 12th grade setting. Those interested complete an application online, and winners are randomly selected from those entries. In 2019, more than 120,000 teachers applied for the grant, and 5,000 winners were chosen.

“Reading not only plays an important role in developing the minds of children, but also helps children learn and grow by teaching imagination skills, language/communication skills, and creativity,” McKenna said.

To learn more or see the full list of winning teachers, visit