Educator At Heart
As a 4th generation educator, it was no surprise that I chose education as my major in college. My great grandfather had been an English teacher in Aultsville, Ontario (that side of the family picked the Loyalist side of the American Revolution), my grandmother was a college educated woman and teacher (until she married in 1913) in western Pennsylvania, and my father was a high school math teacher and administrator in my home town in northern New York. Two of my older sisters also received undergraduate degrees in education with the line of educators in our family continuing.
Where the Passion Begins
My interest in the library began in my junior year of college when I received a phone call from my best friend in my hometown. She worked at our local town library and they were seeking a college student for an acting Children’s Librarian for the summer. The Library Director wanted time to search for a qualified librarian and thought it would be a great opportunity to employ a college student for the summer. I was selected for this opportunity and thus began my library career in 1979.
I had been a patron of this town library since I could remember and it was so exciting to be included in this team that I admired and “looked up to” in so many respectful ways. I had no background knowledge of the responsibilities of a Children’s Librarian and learned much from the staff in those few summer months.
Welcome to the Real World
Upon graduating with a BS in education in 1980 from SUNY Plattsburgh the big adult world seemed intimidating so I set-up an interview at SUNY Albany in hopes to apply and attend their Library Science graduate program. In the meantime, plan B was to actively seek a teaching job. When visiting my brother in Houston, Texas I interviewed with the Houston ISD and was offered a position as a 4th grade teacher. As I began my first teaching position I didn't stopped thinking about my desire for graduate studies in Library Science.
I took advantage of the “free” graduate courses offered through the district for almost 5 years with a variety of hours in classroom management, math, and improving my teaching skills. With enough math classes to teach secondary math I then took a 7th grade math position in Aldine ISD. It was at this point in 1986 that I actively perused my passion and I began the library science program at Sam Houston State University.
Passion Comes Alive
I want everyone to understand that I did not spend countless hours in the school library as a student. My elementary librarian only spent 2-3 days at our school and the library was dark, dull, and closed most of the time. My junior high school librarian never came out from behind the desk and spent the entire time shushing us. I was too busy socializing in high school to enter the library and unfortunately I only remember one teacher (9th grade History) taking us to the library for research. My vague memory didn’t include us actively seeking resources. It was my public library experience that drove my desire to become a school librarian.
Excited but nervous, my two awesome paraprofessionals trained me the entire year. Since that first year I have had the privilege to work as a secondary school librarian in both Texas and South Carolina for the past 25 years. It has been an awesome experience filled with learning, teaching, and collaborating in one of the most exciting positions in education. One may ask why I chose to be a librarian and my answer is simple. When you look at my library program you see daily celebrations of books, technology, learning, teaching and more. The past 25 years has zipped by so quickly but time flies when you are having FUN.
Thankful to Many
I have had an awesome opportunity to work with associates such as SCASL (South Carolina Association of School Librarians - small but mighty), and TLA (Texas Library Association - everything is bigger in Texas). My PLN includes some of the most incredible people in the library from around the world. That one little summer job changed my life forever. Thank you Martha Burkhalter for that one short phone call in the summer of 1978.