Ruby Carver Elementary School book vending machine dedication

Each time a book drops to the bottom of the new book vending machine at Ruby F. Carver Elementary School, the satisfying "thunk" of a new read will remind students and staff members of the legacy of beloved Carver educator Beverly Parsley. The machine was dedicated Thursday afternoon in the school's cafeteria in memory of Parsley, who died in 2023. She retired in 2018 after teaching for 38 years at the school in Henrico's far West End.

Parsley was remembered fondly at the dedication by family members, friends and former colleagues.

"Beverly was an extraordinary teacher," said Patricia Gregory, who taught with Parsley at Carver for many years. "She had a passion for teaching reading and she loved sharing books with the kids — especially books with characters who were full of personality and plots were full of humor ... As a friend and colleague she was helpful, loyal, kind, respectful, supportive and always ready to help. Beverly made Carver a better place for the students and the staff."

A book vending machine at Carver Elementary is dedicated to late teacher Beverley Parsley. Her niece, Avery, attended the dedication to showcase the vending machine. Parsley's great niece Avery demonstrated the machine for the crowd, selecting a book in the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series. She and other family members posed for photos after the dedication.

Another important member of the school community is also memorialized through the new vending machine. The $7,000 device was paid for by "Walk4JaneO," one of the school's community partners. The group includes friends and family members of longtime Carver volunteer Jane O'Toole, who died in 2017.

"Carver is a special place and it was special to Jane," said Mike O'Toole, Jane's husband and a founder of Walk4JaneO.

O'Toole's children attended the school from 1993-2007, and Jane became a familiar presence as a volunteer at the school.

The project "celebrates the power of strong community partnerships, the love of students and the love of reading," said Kristy Budny, Ruby Carver principal.

The side of the blue and gold machine bears Parsley's likeness and a description of her legacy and contributions. In front, a small "Walk4JaneO" logo is below the slot where tokens are deposited.

While the vending machine is undeniably cool, it also supports important literacy, behavioral and equity goals. Students receive a token in recognition of exemplary behavior, plunk it into the machine and select the book they want.

"The machine builds a community of readers and encourages students to share their book choices," said Neeley Karkosak, school librarian. "Many of our students don't have access to books at home and the machine enables them to start their own libraries at home and experience the joys of reading."