The Pantry Plus More has partnered with Ross Justice, who is committed to honoring the memory and legacy of his mother, to create Mrs. Austin’s Book Club. The program will provide all West Virginia teachers in grades K – 12 with a classroom library. This will allow students the chance to read an age-appropriate book if they finish their work early, have free time, or can’t go to the school library.
Ross was inspired to start Mrs. Austin’s Book Club because he saw the positive impact a classroom library had on his mom’s students. Since the start of her teaching career, Shari Austin maintained a library in her classroom. Her life was tragically cut short after she sustained injuries as a result of a storm that damaged her home. She was teaching fourth grade at Brookhaven Elementary School in Monongalia County at the time.
In addition, Mrs. Austin’s mother opened Morgantown Early Learning Facility, more commonly known as ELF. Both women amassed a large collection of books over the years and encouraged young people to read.
Ross and The Pantry Plus More are reaching out to educators to determine what books are appropriate for each grade level. For elementary schools that serve pre-K – 5th grade students, the program will provide classroom sets of essential books in homerooms across the state. To meet the needs of 6th-12th grade students, Mrs. Austin’s Book Club will offer e-readers and subject-based books.