Librarian on a cold tin roof: Library Media Specialist Joe Wing passes his chilly time on the Central Elementary School roof by reading a book from on high to a class of thoroughly amused kids below Friday. Wing was following through on his promise to spend the school day on the roof if the students met his challenge of spending at least 150,000 combined minutes reading in one week. CHRIS BAXTER - The Observer
Central Elementary School library media specialist Joe Wing enjoyed the confines of a temporary new office Friday, one which was a bit drafty but offered several amenities — plenty of elbow room and an unbeatable view.
Wing, wearing long johns, insulated overalls and a wool jacket, spent almost five hours atop Central’s expansive, flat roof while tackling his daily workload.
The educator did so to keep his word, and to keep Central students reading.
Wing had promised Central’s 377 students that if they read for at least 150,000 minutes in a week, he would spend almost all of a school day atop their school’s roof.
Central students responded to the challenge like energetic bookworms, reading 150,346 minutes in seven days. Much of the reading was done during recess, lunch breaks and at home. Central students read an average of 6.6 hours each over the seven-day challenge period.
“I was truly amazed,” Wing said.
The educator learned that his school’s students had eclipsed the 150,000 mark soon after arriving at school Friday and wasted no time keeping his promise. He climbed two ladders to the top of Central’s roof around 8:45 a.m. Wing was greeted by weather that seemed a little more cold and a little more drizzly than it did on the ground. A bitting wind was added to the inclement weather mix about noon.
Still, the less than perfect conditions did not prevent the popular educator from enjoying his almost breathtaking view.
“You could see the weather roll across the valley,” Wing said. “It was pretty neat.”
The vista and greetings from Central students helped time pass quickly for Wing. He spent much of his time talking to children who were outside during their recess and lunch breaks. He enjoyed their good-natured teasing.
“You must be that crazy man,” one boy told Wing.
Wing also worked from his rooftop perch, communicating with students to whom he provides one-on-one instruction via a two-way internet video program.
“The kids really enjoyed it. They liked seeing what things looked like on top of the roof,” Wing said.
Wing came to school Friday not knowing if he would be spending his day on the roof since students were 28,000 minutes short of the 150,000 target when school ended Thursday afternoon. Central students read feverishly Thursday night to pass the 150,000 minute mark. Their dedication allowed them to surpass the 150,000 minute mark and make the “Read Mr. Wing to the Roof” project a success.
Some students told Wing that next year they will read a million minutes in a week.
“If you do that I might spend a week on the roof,” Wing told them.
Wing knows of two cases in which children read more during the challenge week than they had during any other week of their lives. Several parents thanked Wing for his efforts, noting that he inspired their children to read significantly more.
This was the third year Wing has done something to reward Central students for meeting a reading goal. Two years ago Wing rode a tricycle at school, and in 2011 he dyed his hair pink. Wing will probably go on the roof again next year if students again meet the reading target he sets.
“I love getting them riled up and excited about reading.”