I think we’re both connectors
“I think something that Courtney and I both pride ourselves in is that we never want to forget what it’s like to be a classroom teacher, so we do everything we can to support our staff. One thing that’s awesome about being a librarian is that we get to help teachers when we collaborate with them and enhance an idea or lesson that they have. It’s just nice to see them feel successful and be successful knowing that we helped them change something up or supported them to do something they may not have tried on their own.”
“Along those lines, a new thing right that everybody’s doing is the Breakout EDUs. We know very well how much time it takes to put those things together, so we love it when we can do that for a teacher. When we can take their content, collaborate with them and put that together and they get to experience something like that, it’s really exciting because the kids are super engaged and the teacher has learned something new and then inevitably we learn something new. We get excited about new content and it’s just fun to experience that with them.”
What do you like best about your work?
“I think that we both have that growth mindset in the sense that we want to stay abreast of current trends. We like finding new technological programs and figuring out how it could work for people here at school and how can they use it with their kids. I really enjoy that aspect. When we go to conferences, sometimes sessions are labelled ‘elementary,’ ‘middle,’ ‘high school.’ Well, a lot of times I like to go to an elementary session to see how they do it and then I’m like, that can easily be used here in the secondary level. We both like learning new things and sharing and collaborating. I feel like that culture is growing among our other high school librarians. We’ve even talked about having a middle school/high school meeting so we could all share things. I think we both enjoy that part of the job.”
“I think we’re both connectors which is why this job is suitable for us, like Jen said. And we’re both nerdy, lifelong learners. We always want to learn. When there is a conference or any kind of opportunity to learn something new, we’re always the ones saying, ‘Can we go please?’ We’re the connectors. We want to bring that back to the faculty and share that with the kids, too. I think that’s what makes us work well together.”
“And we like working with the community. We have this project we do with our English 10 core kids that we’re really proud of. It’s called A Community Problem Fair. It used to be that an English 10 research project was to pick a problem and discuss solutions. So we thought: Why don’t we make this more meaningful for these kids? We asked a lot of nonprofits in the area to come in and talk about local problems, like Lynnhaven River Now to talk about the environment and Samaritan House to talk about domestic abuse. So the students do an in-house field trip. The organizations come in and discuss their problems and the kids choose which problem they want to focus on. They research that organization and our databases, and they usually do a community service part of the project. The kids last year started a Toby’s Dream group here at school, which is like a local Make-A-Wish foundation, and they raised money to help a kid fulfill a dream. I get chill bumps thinking about it because, in a way, we’re helping teach them how to give back.”
“We also find a byproduct of the problem fair is that we have kids who have personal needs that make a connection to somebody who helps them. Like Jen said, a lot of these kids they might not have people at home getting them involved in philanthropy so we do a lesson beforehand. We go into the classrooms for a short lesson and we do an empathy video and we talk about helping others. We do this ‘wouldn’t it be nice if…’ statement. We read the statements and they’re like, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if children weren’t abused.’ And it makes you think that these kids are dealing with so much. We bring these real life people in and the kids come up to us afterward and ask, ‘Can I talk to that lady because I really feel like I need to?’ A really beautiful thing that happened…we had this group that was new this year. It’s called SMILE. They raise money for kids who may not be able to afford things like prosthetic limbs or other needs. We had a…oh, I get so emotional about it. We had a student and he needed new hearing aids. He has a teacher aide who sits with him and he asked, ‘Well, could they help me?’ We connected him with SMILE and they were going to help him. And he was just one among others who had a need that was met that way.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
“I enjoy fishing with my family. I have three boys and they play baseball so I spend a lot of time at the baseball field. I just enjoy watching them play whatever sport is in season. I like to exercise. They say you are most like the five people you hang out with and my five core group of people, we like to be healthy. I like to be outside and be in nature.”
“My family is huge so I’m just a super family-oriented person. Whenever I am not here I’m doing something for family or with family, not just my immediate family but my aunts and uncles and cousins. I also like to be outdoors and be active. Once the weather changes we will be outside until the sun sets – playing, walking, running, beaching it. And of course, I like reading.”