Making the library the heart of the school
I was a part-time special education teacher at Old Donation Center, in the old building, then became full-time. I was the first full-time special education teacher there. I loved special education because it was great to be able to work with kids you felt deserved a shot, deserved to be included, and it was good to be an advocate for them. So, I really didn’t have “librarian” on my radar – at all. I was doing well at Old Donation and switched over to Kempsville Middle School, and the reason librarian came on my radar was because one of my inclusion teachers was studying to become a librarian. She told me what libraries are all about today, which is very different than what a lot of people might imagine. It just seemed to really fit with my skill set and the things that I am passionate about, and I liked that I could have my hands all over the school and sort of create this community around the library. I really wanted the library to be a place that was the heart of the school and where kids could just feel comfortable – in a lot of ways, as comfortable as they would be in their own living room. Just coming in and reading a book, discovering and exploring technology, and creating.
I think I’ve always been somewhat of a curator. I always have been passionate about finding new things – whether it’s books or movies and recommending those things to other people so they can discover and be passionate about those things, too. That fit really well with me and my personality and going into the library science field. So, I’ve come here to Windsor Woods this year and it has been an amazing place with a wonderful administration, and they’ve allowed me to kind of forge my own path when it comes to the library. It’s been a lot of fun.
You said libraries are not what people imagine, so how would you describe school libraries today?
A lot of people might have a similar impression that I did: that it was a place where you had to be quiet and you just went there to find books – which is great, books are great and that’s still a core piece of what the library is – but it just starts there and has expanded to include all different kinds of resources. And that’s one of the biggest things that libraries do, provide access to learning resources so kids who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to explore these things can explore them. It’s expanded to all forms of technology, whether it’s robots or virtual reality, or just exploring online resources, or even just playing with LEGOs – kids learn through exploration and play, so we foster that in the library. We just wanted it to be a place where kids wanted to be.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Well, I have two boys at home, ages 6 and 3, and they’re pretty much my world right now. Sharing a book with them has been one of the most special things that we do together. I do take a lot of books from the library and share them my boys, and we discover and share those things together. Outside of that, I’ve always been a movie guy. So, I’m a big nerd. I love science fiction movies and science fiction books – Star Trek, Star Wars and all that. I’m a Marvel guy, too. One of the first things I did when I got to the library was to take all of our graphic novels and put them in a section because I’ve always been a comic-book, graphic-novel guy. I wanted to promote and share that with the students here. I love to be able to watch students explore and grow, to share new things with them, to watch their passions grow and have them sort of discover who they are and what path they want to take.