Leawood educator recycles political signs into reading tool

Michelle Davis, a Leawood resident and Oak Grove Elementary School library media specialist, is using donated political signs to create story walks, like the one pictured above. Photo courtesy of Michelle Davis. 

Michelle Davis asked fellow Johnson Countians to donate their 2020 election yard signs for a good cause: helping kids read.

Davis is the library media specialist at Oak Grove Elementary in the Turner School District in Kansas City, Kansas, and she says she wants to use the old campaign signs for what she calls “story walks.”

The setup allows students to engage with a story at their own pace, walking past different markers with parts of the story on them. Davis says it’s a chance to engage with a book while being active and getting outside. Davis did a story walk with her students last month for the book “The Wild Robot” by Peter Brown. She likened the experience to a game or completing an obstacle course.

“The response at school was positive since it was a reading activity that supports movement and social distancing,” Davis said. “Students recognize the story walks now. I hope they are drawn to them. It is a fun way to promote reading outside of school.”

Davis now wants to make more story walks — with students supplying the stories. After she spoke to a few neighbors about donating their political signs, Davis said she decided to reach out to the community via NextDoor to try and get a sign inventory going.

She was hoping to get about 20 to 25 signs since the first story walk took 12 signs, she said. Her neighbors went above and beyond, though, and supplied Davis with more than 70 signs so far.

Now, she’s planning a story walk expansion to nearby Pierson Park in KCK, which has a community walking trail.

“I’d like to expand story walks there to reach our preschool, remote learning families and for children during the summer break,” Davis said.

Davis said she’s collected as many political signs as she needs, but suggested anyone wanting to donate their signs to contact a local library.