Hometown: Callaway, VA
Education: University of North Carolina at Greensboro —B.S.
Year Appointed: 2000
Current Position: Library Director
No, actually in high school I wanted to go into engineering, if you can believe that! I was among the very first students to attend the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School for Science and Technology when it first opened, and I went there for two years. I’ve always loved books and always loved going to the library as a child, but I never really thought about being a librarian until much later! I do vividly remember going to the Franklin County library as a child. At the time it was located in an old house and the children’s section was upstairs. It was such a comfortable, cozy space and I loved spending time there. My parents were also always reading. My mom was a special education teacher and my dad was an electrician, and neither of them ever went anywhere without a book!
So how did your career begin as a librarian?
I attended UNCG on an academic scholarship, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I actually changed my major several times! They have a wonderful education school at UNCG and eventually I decided that was the route I wanted to take. I graduated and was certified in elementary and middle school education. After graduation I started working as a kindergarten teacher for Roanoke City Schools, and then taught third grade for Roanoke City. I took a couple of years off when I had my daughter, Sarah Kate, and when it was time for her to start kindergarten we chose North Cross. I loved the Montessori approach and just felt it was a good fit for her academically. After her first year, there was an opening in the JK program, and I was lucky enough to join the wonderful teachers there. I worked in JK for several years and enjoyed getting to know Kay Anderson and Linda Houston here in the library. I had begun working part-time for the public library, so in 2008, Kay talked to me about job sharing as she knew she wanted to retire within a few years. I had already begun classes to earn my library endorsement from UVA, so I was excited to have the opportunity to work in the library here.
How has the library changed over the years?
Linda and Kay were both amazing and I learned so much from both of them. Kay was extremely knowledgeable not only about the kinds of library skills our students needed, but also in the use of technology, and Linda was very skilled at cataloging and organization. Linda has two daughters who graduated from North Cross, so she knew a great deal about the history of the school and people who were an important part of that history. Together they really showed me how to run a successful library. With all the advances in technology over the years librarians have really started taking on a different role. I still manage the physical collection and do all of the cataloging but now the role of a librarian really involves working as a guide for students to help them find and sift through all of the information available. I work a lot with our students on developing research skills, and we begin that at a young age. It’s important that they learn how to search for information and how to be discerning about what information they use for their academic work. Of course, I also really love working with our youngest students, too, and helping students select books they will enjoy reading is an important part of my job, too - and one of my favorite parts!
Book Fair is a tradition that so many people in the North Cross community look forward to every year. What does it take to pull it off?
The books fairs are a lot of work but absolutely worth every minute of it. I definitely would not be able to do it without the parents that volunteer so much of their time to help, but I love that it really feels like a community event. The kids are so excited and I love that so many parents come in with their children. It’s fun to work with the children to make their “wish lists”, and I am so grateful to all the teachers who bring their students and provide the time for them to be able to carefully select things they’d like to ask to be able to purchase. I also involve the students in making decisions about how the book fair money is spent, it’s always so interesting to hear what they would like to see added to the library.
What is your favorite North Cross tradition?
I love the Fat Pencil ceremony at the end of the year! It’s always so fun to hear the memories that the seniors have and the connection that the lower school students make because they are experiencing a lot of the same things that the seniors mention. I taught many of the current seniors as students in JK so it has really been rewarding to see them grow up and accomplish so much. It is such a big deal for the seniors, too, because some of their first memories come from their time in the lower school and it really highlights for them just how special it is to be part of such a close knit community.
What would North Cross students and families find interesting about you?
People always ask me what my favorite book is and my answer is simple - there is no way I could ever pick just one favorite! I also love to travel, I will go anywhere. My friends always joke that I would take a detour to see the world’s largest ball of string...and I probably would, just because it would be something new to see!