Courtesy of TuesD Chambers

TuesD Chambers is one of just a few educators in the country in the running for $100,000.
Courtesy of TuesD Chambers TuesD Chambers is one of just a few educators in the country in the running for $100,000.

Just 15 teachers around the country are vying for five $100,000 scholarships from Farmers Insurance, including TuesD Chambers, a teacher and librarian at Ballard High School.

Chambers is the only one of the group from the Northwest. Results to come in December, when the top five vote getters will win the award. Farmers Insurance encouraged teachers to “dream big” and submit proposals

If she wins, she intends to use the funds to help remodel Ballard High School’s library into the John Stanford Learning Commons.

Named after late Seattle Public Schools Superintendent John Stanford, the learning commons would be an open, changing environment allowing for dynamic teaching opportunities.

“How do we solve problems? It’s not by doing the same thing we’ve done before,” Chambers said. “Currently the computers are in the center of the room which makes it hard to teach. You have to talk over people. We want movable furniture so we can work on whatever problem we are facing that day.”

She said libraries have a reputation as a stuffy, silent place.

“In the past, when you see a library, it’s a very quiet area,” she said. “There’s a lot of “shhh” going on. We want to take that concept and bring it into the 21st Century.”

Chambers will maintain quiet study rooms, but wants places for drama groups to map out blocking, for the virtual reality club to utilize their equipment in an open space.

“We need to be collaborative,” she said. “Teachers can learn from students. We need to be able to change the space to what kids need.”

The drive for the scholarship was started by longtime educator Deb Arthur, who retired last year. Chambers was thrust into the role. Her first day at Ballard High was in August of this year.

“It’s so exciting and a little nerve-wracking,” she said.

Chambers defies stereotypes of librarians. She is constantly fired up about her job and speaks so quickly and with so much energy it makes note-taking difficult. It’s fitting she is the one spearheading a difficult, ambitious project.

“I believe we need to take an active role in learning, a lot of people are complacent,” she said. “This stuff is new and exciting. This could be the blueprint for schools for the next decade.”

She has been an educator for 19 years, spending time as librarian at McClure Middle School.

She said the project dedicated to Stanford was in honor of his legacy.

“He was well known for thinking outside of the box,” Chambers said.

The learning commons named after him will continue that unconventional thinking and allow for more collaboration between teacher and student.
It would be similar in concept to the University of Washington’s Odegaard Library and Learning Commons.

“You could have some students working on a group project in one area, others doing research and still others taking classes online with UW students,” she said. “We are bigger than we have ever been, with 1,967 students, and we need to use the space we have effectively.”