Preparing For What Might Be My Last Year as a School Librarian
|This is one version of me|
This school year was a hard one but not just because there was a world wide pandemic. There was that, but at our school we had so many changes that your head would spin. First, we lost two of our administrators who had been at our school for years. Why they left is a long story that doesn't need to be told except to say that it wasn't their decision to leave. Our new principal for 2020-21 had been with us only a year as an assistant principal, so this year was her first to take the helm of any school. To help her, the district selected one of her assistant principals and let her choose another. That meant our new principal only got to experience the school's traditions for three fourths of the year before everyone went on lock down March 2020. I am the last one on staff who has been at the school since its very early days, and there are only four other people on staff who worked with me at the old building. We opened the brand new campus eight years ago. Making sure we followed our school's traditions often fell on my shoulders. That was a burden and task that I never really wanted, but I thought was important for our students.
|Old email with school domain that is no longer in service|
Something else changed this past year that had a major impact on all the school's veteran teachers and students. Our school was the only school in the largest district in Louisiana to have a one to one computer program. All our students had access to a device on campus, but not only that, each student had a fully functioning email address. Our school initially was part of the New Tech Network of schools out of Napa, CA, and we used New Tech's learning management program, Echo. We were the only school in the district with an IT person on campus who helped with individual computer issues as well as managed the network and networked printers as their full time job. The district chose not to renew the contract with New Tech because of the cost. When the pandemic hit, and we needed to set up virtual learning for this year, the district went with Google Classroom across all schools in the district. There was a learning curve, but we could do it. What we no longer had was using email as an easy method for communicating across the campus. Students in our district were NOT allowed to have email accounts. Also, we didn't have anyone to make our email groups that we used constantly to send out info. With our connection to New Tech, the school had its own domain and site specific email addresses. This made life so much easier. Our new principal finally convinced the district to allow our students to use email on a trial basis. The students could only email across the campus and district. They could not send or receive email to anyone outside our domain. For our students who were accustomed to using their school email for everything this was a huge adjustment.
So, managing a library during a pandemic with its doors closed was just the least of my issues this year. I got through the year. Now, I am looking at 2021-2022 in a new light. It will probably be my last. When school closed in May, I had officially completed 40 and a half years in education with 30 of those years as a school librarian. I have teacher friends who have worked longer than that but not many. I am tired, and I still want to give to my students the same level of excitement, fun, and programming in the library that I have been doing for the last 30 years. I still love working with kids, but I just don't know what I have left in me to keep doing that.
Since school has let out in late May, I have been reading lots of young adult books. Reading still gives me great pleasure. However, I am finding that I do not have as much interest in following what other librarians are doing across the country or taking advantage of online PD for school librarians. What is the reason? It may be because of my age or it may be because I just finished one of the most trying years of my career. I went through Hurricane Katrina, and this year produced so much more anxiety. After Katrina, all the teachers in Orleans Parish were fired, so I didn't even have an income for several months!
I have one week left of summer vacation, and I still have several appointments with health professionals as well as other obligations that need to be met before school begins. Am I ready to go back? Yes and no.
I am thinking that next year at this time I will be looking for new outlets to express my creativity and keep my brain active, but with most of my friends and my husband retired, I know that I will have a social circle with people who have time like me. Time to travel, garden, meet for lunch, read, and just hang out with my dog.