The School Year Has Ended, and I Have Mixed Emotions
|Closed until August
First, this pandemic year has been extremely stressful for admin, teachers, and students. Our school started later than usual, but we had in-person, hybrid, and virtual students from mid-August until we finished last week. Also, we had to pause school three times for possible hits by a hurricane. The library was not open to students most of the year, but I was constantly working and providing lessons through Google Meet, holding book group meetings through Google Meet, and delivering books ordered by the in-person students. As to having to wear a mask every day at work, I am thrilled to leave that behind me. All in all, I can say that it was not a year that I want to repeat. Though several positive things did come out of the changes in the usual library day to day. First, I was able to do a major weeding and touched every book in the fiction section before tossing over 600 books. I made vast improvements to the resources that I share with students because I made a point to consciously design each presentation to include all the step by step instructions including videos so that students could refer back to the slides for help since they could not seek me out in the library. It will be so helpful next year to have these new and improved teaching materials.
|Two of the Valedictorians from the Class of 2021
Now on to the mixed emotions part--saying good bye to students who have touched my heart. There are two students who kept me on my toes this year. The first one was president of the National Honor Society of which I am the faculty advisor. NHS is all about community service, but getting out into the community or even getting together at school to complete a project was next to impossible with the COVID restrictions. I knew Nina since she came to Taylor in 6th grade, but she was not a library kid. I saw her mostly when she came in with her classes or when she was out and about taking pictures for the yearbook. When she was elected president, I did not know the mettle she had within her. We talked a lot over this past year about NHS business and activities but also about her future plans. She is the first in her family to attend college and wasn't always sure about the best course to take in her application process. Let's just say that she did an amazing job and would have even without my help. She won a $32,000 Patrick Taylor Scholarship that is specific to our school, and she is going to Harvard. Four days before graduation, she found out that she was one of the three valedictorians. She totally hit it out of the park--all from a girl who could not speak a word of English when she began school. This girl has so many interests (plans to major in STEM but published a poetry book a couple of years ago) and special gifts, and I felt honored that she sought me out for advice. In the future, it may be the other way around.
|Here she is in her early days at Taylor
|On graduation day with me, May 15, 2021
The other student who will be so missed by me next year has been hanging out in my library since she entered Taylor in 6th grade. She was a constant in all the book groups that I sponsored for her grade level. When our lunch schedule changed when she was in 8th grade, there was no book group for her. She convinced me to start a third group that year, and then she convinced many of her friends to join so that it wouldn't be a book group of one student and one librarian. All during the pandemic, when we held our book group meetings virtually, I would usually see her smiling face on the screen. She helped me every year with our book fair and all the special programming that we did like Teen Read Week, Teen Tech Week, and National Poetry Month. At one point, I started going with kids to the annual Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge. She and I were both so disappointed that we had to miss our last trip to that event that should have been held in November 2020. In 2018, she went with me and about a dozen other kids to ALA when it was in New Orleans. She got to speak at a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults session and spend some quality time over lunch with a number of authors. I have dozens of pictures of her in the library over the years. Julia was also one of our three valedictorians. She has so many interests too - space travel (she plans to major in aerospace engineering), music (she plays the saxophone and piano), WWII history (she was an active volunteer at the WWII museum and was tapped for several special projects through the museum), and literature (where our lives connected.) I am more than pleased that she chose to hang out in the library during her free time. Next year I am losing her to Princeton. I know that she is going to soar, literally, and I expect to read about her space travel plans in the near future.