CHASSE Building Team (CHASSE), which was recently named the Business of the Year by the Tempe Chamber of Commerce, partnered with the Tempe Elementary School District in recent weeks to assemble and launch “Little Free Libraries” at four district elementary schools: Laird, Thew, Nevitt and Scales.

“A Little Free Library is a ‘take a book, return a book’ free book exchange. They come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common version is a small wooden box of books,” says Barry Chasse, founder of CHASSE, who is himself a father of two daughters. “Anyone may take a book or bring a book to share.”

According to Little Free Library, the overarching 501c3 organization that founded the concept, studies show that children growing up in homes without books are on average three years behind children in homes with lots of books, even when controlled for other key factors. One of the most successful ways to improve the reading achievement of children is to increase their access to books, especially at home. But two out of three children living in poverty have no books to call their own.

“Being able to read changes lives for children. CHASSE’s donation of the Little Free Libraries will impact our children for years to come,” says Tempe Elementary School District superintendent Christine Busch.

CHASSE both assembled the four 4-foot structures at the schools as a team on October 6 as well as donated 25 books to each Little Free Library to get the sharing started.  CHASSE also painted each one with the famous Dr. Seuss quote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go” to inspire those of all ages who come upon them outside of each school.

“We also painted each structure with each school’s individual colors, and there is a plaque from the Tempe Elementary School District and our team dedicating each library to the children and teachers,” says Chasse.

Beyond this donation, CHASSE also recently completed work on the district’s new Wood Elementary School, which was built from the ground up on a site adjacent to the existing (and now former) facility over the past year. The new school facilities feature 30 classrooms, administration and office space, a learning commons building, a multipurpose room and a cafeteria building with three music classrooms. It also provides outdoor dining and learning spaces – which were designed in partnership with Wood students – and a new parent drop-off and pick-up area.

“One of our main goals at CHASSE is to incorporate as much STEM and Project Based Learning into the student’s curriculum when working on a school campus,” says Chasse. “Prior to the onset of COVID-19, in fact, we partnered with Tempe Elementary School District to incorporated hands-on lessons into the curriculum at Wood Elementary School.”

Among the activities, last year as the project was beginning, students from Wood were bussed to Frank Elementary School, which CHASSE completed work on prior, to talk with Frank students, AVID Architects, and the CHASSE team about the construction process and how they can help design their own outdoor learning spaces.

“The visit included a tour of Frank and of course, some time to play on the playground, as well as great lessons learned by all,” says Chasse.

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