Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Holidays to YOU!

Lovely to be on our holiday break right now.  Not that I have a ton of free time, of course.  No, like most everyone I know I'm cleaning house and decking the halls and all that jazz. I've managed to squeeze in time to finish one of the two books I'm working on at the moment and drink plenty of coffee, however.  Life is, as always, gooooooood!

December has been a whirlwind.  After decorating the library with holiday cheer, I posted pics to FB, Instagram, and Twitter.  Other folks came in and out and took photos, too.  Before I knew it, this little guy had gone practically viral, which has tickled me no end!

It has absolutely blown my mind that he has traveled all over the world at this point--has been tweeted from places such as Germany, Istanbul and various locations in Asia.  The Waiting for Superman FB page shared him and he got a ton of shares from that page, too.  I love that he has spread joy on his journey and I love that others have joined in the fun, tweeting their own bookish snowmen.

Along with good ole Mr. Snowman, here, I had two other main displays for the month:

I really thought the Elvis would appeal mostly to the teachers, but several students mentioned how much they enjoyed him.   :)

I plan to do a mid-year review on the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year while on break. Not sure if I'll get to it before Christmas or just before heading back to school.  Either way, I'm really looking forward to taking the time to reflect before heading into the new year.

May your days be Merry & Bright,

Monday, November 24, 2014


I'm so very thankful for the new adventures in my new job.  I absolutely love being the high school librarian at NHS, and while I certainly still have much to learn and improve upon, I'm very thankful for the opportunity to do so.

  • I have really enjoyed working with & getting to know my lovely assistant Paula, who was already in place before I was hired on.  I know it can be difficult to "learn" new people, especially when you've trained under someone else (and were close friends with them).  Paula has made this transition so much easier for me. 
  • My co-workers are fabulous.  Yes, I still miss my friends from the middle school, but seriously this group of educators has been so welcoming and so open to new ideas.  I have great colleagues who are supportive and encouraging.  
  • The admin gives us Sonic Drink Friday's on the regular.  This speaks volumes...VOLUMES, friends.
  • My students are flipping AMAZING.  Not only has it been so cool to see what my former kiddos from the middle school are up to all these years later, but it has been very cool to meet new students, as well.  I'm so blessed to have students who have made me a part of their high school world. 
  • Each day is a new adventure.  Seriously, it would be IMPOSSIBLE to be bored in this gig. 
  • I have a whole new world of books to enjoy.  Ah, the BLISS.
  • The opportunity to work with the young writers group has been fantastic and is inspiring me in my writing, too.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Our Homecoming game was Friday night.  I picked my girls up early from their respective schools so they could experience a high school pep rally (my oldest and her best friend are 6th grade band kids--which can be discouraging as you don't sound like you want to sound yet! hoped to give them some insight as to what they have to look forward to!) and a bit later we all had dinner at the high school (the choir burger fundraiser was also Friday) and then walked over to the stadium.

It was a beautiful evening for Friday night lights.  Rain had been a threat earlier in the evening but by the time of kick-off it had cleared off, the sunset was a lovely pink--and later, the blood moon shone above us.

Right before the game started the announcer introduced the Dukes and Duchesses.   As a co-sponsor for one of the clubs, I proudly watched my kiddos standing out there in the field in their homecoming finery.  The band Duke and Duchess are also my 8th period library clerks (and I've known them since they were 6th graders!) We cheered like mad when they were announced Homecoming Queen and King!

As I sat in the stands with my girls cheering on my team, I noticed a Senior lineman out on the field. He had come in earlier in the day and we worked together when he was having trouble downloading Romeo and Juliet.  We never got it to work--turns out there was tech trouble throughout the district and I ended up ordering another hard copy yesterday so he will have it by early next week whether the ebooks are working or not.

That drummer making the crowds go wild with his awesome beats? Yep, he was working on research in the library three days this week.  And that twirler?  She and I discuss books so much that when we finally made the first library podcast she was my lovely co-host.  That drill team dancer with the amazing high kicks?  She was part of a great group of kids working on a group project in the library this week.

Kids waved, stopped by where we sat in the bleachers to chat.  I watched the girls wearing their giant beautiful beribboned bejeweled homecoming mums with pride and the boys with their matching garters. I am both transported back in time about 30 years to my own days of mums and high kicks and studying in the library, and sitting on a hard bleacher in the here and now!

I just LOVE being a high school librarian.  It is about more than the books though those are important. It is about more than the technology although I love that, too.
It is about these kids.
Yes, these are my kids.  This is my place.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Banned Books Week!

To celebrate our FREADOM I've created this Thinglink on Banned Books week 2014.  I hope you find it helpful. 

Follow THIS LINK to my Thinglink!

Monday, September 15, 2014

3 weeks in...

image from

Friday marked the end of the 3rd week of school for me.  It has been a whirlwind; a wild and  happy whirlwind.

I can say this without reservation--I absolutely LOVE being a high school librarian.  LOVE it.  I knew it would be a new adventure, but I honestly didn't realize I would enjoy it so much from day one.

It has been amazing to see former students who attended my middle school----they are taller and many of the boys have more facial hair, but other than that they are basically the same sweet kids I knew way back when.

I am beginning to see progress in adding some cozy reading areas and other little touches that make the library feel like my home away from home.

I will be back on the blogging bandwagon soon---but have learned over the years to give myself time to settle in and make what is important important when I'm in the midst of change and a major learning curve.  I hope you will remember this, too----it is OKAY for you to take time when you need to take time.  It is okay to be still.  It is okay to ponder and think and breathe when you need to do so---seriously, if our buckets are not full, we cannot fill the buckets of others.

I hope your new school year has started of marvelously!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

And so it begins...

image created in PowerPoint using Word clip art

Yesterday we held  FISH camp.  All incoming freshmen were there to learn about and tour the high school. I was on the agenda--speaking to 5 groups of about 70 each rotating through the library over the course of a couple of hours.  

I have been working on what to say to these kiddos for about a week--in my head at least!  Regardless of whatever I was actively working on, my brain was still working on what on earth I would say to these students.  

Now, for full disclosure I LOVE talking to and with students.  I love public speaking.  I'm a theater girl at heart, so the getting up in front of large crowds thing doesn't worry me.  It was what to SAY that had me a bit bumfuzzled.  I mean, this is my first rodeo with a high school library gig! What the heck do I know?

A post regarding high school library guidelines on a wonderful library list-serve I follow, LM_Net, caught my eye last week.  Someone mentioned they liked the always-amazing Doug Johnson's expectations and the words really spoke to me.  I knew I wanted to incorporate them into my talk somehow.   I remember watching a video this summer made for kids entering the school that said, "We trust you." I probably watched this as a part of my Summer Learning Challenge run by Todd Nesloney, but I might have come across it through another post or blog---honestly, I follow so many great blogs and awesome folks on Twitter, etc. that I don't always remember who posted it, or where it was posted---but I DO remember the ideas! (edited to add credit for the video--it was from Michelle Luhtala and thanks to reader Amy Barbarino for that info!)

Here is what I finally came up with share with the FISH swimming through the library:

  1.  Welcome! I'm glad you are here.  
  2. I am new and we will learn together. 
  3. I want you to be in the library.  My job is MUCH more fun when YOU are here.  
  4. This is a place for you to Read, Think, Dream, Create, & Explore.
  5. We have books that will take you places and loads of technology, too.
  6. My expectation for you in the library can be summed up like this:  Keep It Awesome.  This is a place for you to be productive in a way that allows others to be productive. I trust you to Keep It Awesome.  
  7. If you need something and we don't have it, let me know. I will do my very best to get it.
  8. You come with a class or a pass.  
  9. We will host some amazing opportunities for you: book clubs, Makerspaces, & lunch and learn sessions. 
  10. We are connected: Instagram, Twitter & Facebook--look us up and follow.
  11. This is not MY library, this is OUR library.  Let's Keep It Awesome!
Information on fines and procedures can wait.  I have to get the kids IN the library before any of that really matters anyway----so my main focus was to inspire them to get IN there. 

It went well.  The kids were great; they listened and asked questions.  It was really funny during a couple of sessions to see the kids who went to the other middle school last year glancing around at all the kids who were at my middle school last year like what the heck is going on? when the kids broke out in loud applause and cheers when I introduced myself to the group.  ;)

I got hugs, kids asked me to save books for them for the first day, and just about everyone left smiling. I consider that a success!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Reflection Journal

I've always been the reflective sort--have kept diaries and journals since I was about 9.  One of the best practices for my professional (and personal) growth has been reflecting on the various lessons/projects/displays/events that I plan and put on in the library.  Setting down what went well and what did not along with ways I'll improve or move forward with new goals. 

Also, have I mentioned I get absolutely giddy in office supply stores?  That fresh journals make my heart sing?  That I love perusing the back-to-school aisles?  

I am so flippin' excited about my new journal.  I figured this was the perfect time to start with a brand spanking new journal for my brand spanking new journey.  

I've tabbed it according to my 10 goals, leaving the back half for day-to-day blurbs about whatever.  I like the freedom to have both.  Best of all?  This little beauty was less than $5.00!

Let the new year begin!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Year, New Goals

Writing my goals for this new year has been an interesting exercise.  While I am working to keep things measurable some of what I will do is create a welcoming and teen-friendly atmosphere while still maintaining that sense that it is a haven and a place of learning, something that is difficult to really measure in a tangible way.

There is a term in Denmark called hygge.   It is a word for which there is no easy translation, but it basically means that cozy, contented feeling you have when surrounded by a warm fire, friends, and a good book. NPR has a great little article with awesome pics to describe it HERE.  I guess, in a nutshell, hygge is what I'm trying to create.  

My 2014-2015 NHS Library Goals

1.  Prepare for Fish Camp
  • On August 15th I will stand before the incoming freshman class and introduce myself to them as the high school librarian for the very first time. Half of these kiddos I know because they are coming up from my former middle school, which is awesome.  The other half?  Well, it is first-impression time for them and I want to do the library justice.  I want to quickly and in a friendly, engaging manner let them know the library belongs to all of us, and they are wanted there.  Then I want to smile, shut up, and sit back down.  This isn't a time to drone on and on about the rules, or book fines.  This is a unique opportunity to invite them in to be a part of our library community.
2. Genre-fy the Fiction Section
  • Genre-fying the middle school fiction was, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I made.  I realize not everyone out there in library land is on-board, and that is okay---but I have to say having SEEN the difference it made for my students made me a true believer.  Not only is it easier for my kids to find what they want, but it makes shelving a breeze--which means those books are getting back out into circulation much faster.  
  • My plan this time is to sticker the books throughout the year and then be able to do the ole switcheroo towards the end of the year.  I hope this plan will make for a smooth transition into a genrefied library.  
3. Update the website
  • Our district has updated the district website---we have a whole new platform to learn, etc. I hope to get some training soon!  The website aspect is so important because it is what allows our library resources to be available 24/7 365 days a year.  
4. Grasp Scheduling
  • I am in a whole new world with scheduling, y'all.  I'm coming from a one largish room library to a two story, with multiple techie rooms on the top floor library.  Each section has its own schedule of availability.  I will also have a full time aide for the first time in YEARS, and thank goodness she knows what she is doing because she will have to teach me!
5. Learn new databases
  • I am SO thankful that our state is now providing database access again!  FREE our first year--AWESOME!.  BUT...these are slightly different than the ones we have had in the past so learning these suckers is on the list.
6. Connections (via social media, etc.)
  • I am a connected librarian.  I want the library to be connected, as well.  Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Remind accounts have all been set up.  Now to market them!
7. Learn the curriculum
  • This will be a long process, not something I can fully accomplish this year.  The more in tune I am with the curricular needs of the teachers and students, the better I am able to assist.  
8. Hold one event per month
  • Whether it is a maker event, a lunch & learn, or a book club meeting, the goal this year is to host one event per month in the library.  I hope to add more than one, but am trying to set a reasonable goal for my first year.  Promoting these events and marketing the library in general are going to take time and effort. 
9. GT collaboration
  • I have been the GT campus coordinator at my middle school for many years.  I'm leaving that behind, but still want to be there for our GT kids in some way.  I have heard for years that "oh, the GT kids will be fine...they are smart and will learn regardless" which is true---but not the right thing to do.  I was a GT kid, and I have GT kids of my own.  These students deserve to also be stretched and academically challenged in ways that allow them to explore their passions and to learn to take chances without fear of failure (which is often how we learn, right?) Many GT students fall into one of two categories.  Either they don't give a rip unless they are interested, don't turn in homework but ace the tests, and are generally bored and wreaking havoc OR they are incredibly worried about their GPA to the extent that they don't want to risk lowering it by testing new theories and taking chances.  I hope to work with the coordinator and other teachers at NHS to create a passion-driven learning environment for these kids. 
10. All in all, learn the HS library
  • It is a shift, a curve, an incredibly exciting challenge.  I have a LOT to learn and will be out of my comfort zone, which is exactly where the magic happens if we let it!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Dawning of a New Age

image found at:

This morning I received an email from a colleague of mine. It was about a blog post from The Ubiquitous Librarian regarding the recent announcement by Amazon of its new Kindle books service. While I had already heard the news about Amazon (I'm a prime member--from way before the current publishing house vs. Amazon issue) via email directly from Amazon.

Truth be told, the only surprise here is the whip-quick time it took for this to happen. It was inevitable, I think, and as The Ubiquitous Librarian mentions, some of this could mean really exciting news for readers all over the world.

Beyond the initial issue of a David and Goliath mega-store book seller situation, and the what-will-this-mean-for authors (and publishers, and everyone in the book industry), my initial thoughts run, of course, to what will this mean for libraries?

This is not a new conversation by any means.  The Kindle subscription service is merely the latest in a long line of happenings that should be causing us as to take a really good, hard look at what we do and why & how we do it.

Seriously--if you AREN'T yet having these conversations, you MUST begin.  If the conversations have started, it is TIME to put those thoughts into ACTION.  The time is NOW, folks.

"The only thing that is constant is change." 

It is a new age, for sure.  One of the many, many reasons librarians simply MUST start thinking outside the box is that we are certainly no longer the only game in town when it comes to information and we haven't been for quite some time.  First Google, now Amazon, right?  And while WE know what we do is actually even more important in today's global world, do our patrons, our administrators, our communities and our lawmakers understand that?  

I believe our public librarians are doing a GREAT job of moving forward.  Even in my small little town we have an amazing public library.  My greatest concern is for the school librarians.  I know there are some absolutely fabulous & connected ones out there. My PLN is full of them, thank goodness.  I learn and share with them via Twitter, listen to amazing podcasts, and read great information about really cool programming on their blogs.   

We MUST up our game, both in terms of WHAT we actually do AND in promoting our libraries as forward-thinking spaces (both brick and mortar AND virtual) for information, collaboration, curation, and learning in all its forms.  

We MUST keep this in mind when planning out our goals/events/programming for the upcoming year. Do our plans tie in and give added value to the Campus Improvement Plan?  Are we assisting in meeting the goals set for our students?  Are we constantly sharpening our saw so that we can be ready to prepare our students for the future that awaits them?  Are we able to assist our teachers in their growth, as well?  

I know that these are a few of the questions that I will definitely keep in mind as I prepare for the new school year.

The cool part is that while change can be hard, and this sure is a mighty paradigm shift we are going through, if you look at this as a fantastic opportunity we can work  to expand ourselves and our libraries beyond our wildest dreams.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Easin' on down the road...

I'm working on writing out my goals for the upcoming school year.  As mentioned in another post, I'm a Twitter fanatic, but I've also been reading some fantastic professional books and listening to some great podcasts, as well. This has been a GREAT summer for self-directed professional development!

I have a meeting with two really amazing librarians I know later on this week.  We plan to get together to share the ideas we've all been brainstorming for the upcoming year.  We all grow stronger when we share with one another.

Tomorrow will be my day to dig through all my notes, look over the highlighted areas of my books, and do some deep-down pondering and dreaming about the soon-to-be-upon-us school year (I go back in less than a month, y'all--WHERE has this summer gone?) and finalize those goals.  Well, I say finalize, but really my goals are always fairly fluid. The list is simply a road map which can be altered if the scenic route looks like more fun, or if the original route is looking like it has a major roadblock.  

I'll post those goals here when I get the first draft done tomorrow.  I'm SO stinkin' excited about the possibilities this new year holds, ya'll.  I just can't wait to ease on down that road!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

It is time for Teachers Write!

Three year participant here!  Yes, I've been lucky enough to be a part of this amazing online community since the very beginning. Every year I've been challenged to stretch and grow.  I've become brave about sharing my writing.  It is always a fantastic time with fantastic folks (speaking of which---this year's lineup of guest authors is AMAZING!) and I come away inspired and filled with writing excitement.

If you would like to participate and haven't already signed up--NEVER FEAR!  It isn't too late!
Sign up HERE! And you can find more info on Kate Messner's blog post HERE.

A HUGE thank you to Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, Jennifer Jones Vincent, and Jo Knowles for being our fearless leaders.  I am forever indebted to you all.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Talk Nerdy to Me

I adore this.
Thank you to my former student ToColla for posting.
That is all.

My Summer PD

As as a school librarian, I am the lone wolf on campus. Sure, the district librarians have meetings each month, but those brilliant idea bursts that happen when you serendipitously run into another teacher in the hallway are harder to come by when you only see each other once per month, and with a set agenda. This is ONE of the reasons my PLN is so incredibly vital to my continuing professional growth.

What on earth would I do without Twitter, y'all?

Yes, it is summer vacation time, and I just got back from visiting family and having a bit of down time to recharge.  Between doing dishes and hanging out with the kids I am getting some of the best professional development I've ever had.  It is a combination of things that really has my brain going--and it all started with a couple of Twitter posts.

First, I watched the keynote speech Library Girl Jennifer LeGarde gave at ISTE2014: How to Survive the Zombie Librarian Apocalypse, which not only has a fabulous title, but makes some strong points that every librarian should hear and hear again.  (go to about minute 15 to skip straight to it)  I wasn't able to attend in person, but through the magic of the Twitterverse I can now proudly say I'm a Zombie Fighter, too!

I'm participating in Todd Nesloney's (@TechNinjaTodd) Summer Learning Series (#SummerLS) this summer, too.  Each week we are given challenges to stretch us and move us forward.

This morning, while sipping my morning joe (my favorite, HEB brand San Antonio blend withSplenda and Natural Bliss vanilla creamer--yum!) I came across a tweet that intrigued me enough to seek out a blog, Technically Yours, Teamann.   The line from the post, "Being right isn't a change agent" just keeps resonating in me.  Yes!  Absolutely!

I'm still pondering, still ruminating on these things and so I say again,

What on earth would I do without Twitter, y'all? 

I'm so thankful for my PLN that is filled with folks inclined to learn, share, and grow together.  My only Twitter regret is that I've reached the point that I cannot add any more folks --the Twitterverse won't let me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A slice of summer

It is 12:16 and I'm having trouble sleeping.
I know I SHOULD be in bed asleep, really I do...
It is just that...
I give the dreaded STAAR test again tomorrow.  I'm teaching summer school this year, you see; working with my students who have not been successful in their first 2 attempts to pass this test and therefore move forward from 8th grade to 9th.

I feel anxious for them.  I feel anxious for myself (moment of truth: I feel rather like a tiger in a cage when it comes to testing. I don't function optimally in a typically chilly, closed off, weirdly quiet, anxiety-filled environment, but maybe that's just me.)

I care about these students.  I worry for them.  Some of them have stories that would break your heart, and some of them just aren't great test takers.  I have several that "don't like to read" and many whose first language is not English.  They are each filled with talents and hopes and dreams that this test cannot possibly begin to measure.

At the beginning of our time together I asked the students to read for 20-30 minutes per night--anything of their choice.  I have less than a handful who have actually done it.  Some of them want to but find it hard to fit in their schedule (babysitting 7 kids by yourself, one a baby, for example makes it rather difficult).  Some struggle so much they have just about given up.

I hope they are having less trouble getting to sleep tonight than I am.  I hope they eat something healthy and protein-packed in the morning to get them through a 4 hour exam.  I hope that they do not judge themselves totally on the outcome of this test and I hope they take it seriously enough to really give it their best.

These tests trouble me for so many reasons.  I get that there must be a measure of what is learned--but the magnitude of importance placed on these tests is beyond my comprehension.
What are we doing to our children?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Wonder Women, Pirates & Rock Stars

this gorgeous artwork can be found HERE.

Sometimes the planets align just so and a rare cosmic event occurs that inspires the mind and thrills the soul.  Or something like that. 

I have had just such a series of events in my life lately.

1. Conversation with lovely friends at my latest writers group meeting.
2.  I began reading Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess (love this book!)
3.  Ran across the oh-so-fabulous art while scrolling through my Facebook feed.
4.  Nancy Jo Lambert began a new Twitter hashtag about sharing your library stories #TYSLib (read more about that HERE)

And then IT HIT ME.

The beautiful, glorious, challenging TRUTH in life is...we are ALL Wonder Women (or Super Men) & we can all be Pirates and Rock Stars. 

Like most folks, this is not a new truth for me to have discovered, but I seem to need to be reminded of this particular truth every now and then.  Such a when I'm closing out my last year as a longtime middle school librarian and entering a totally new exciting (yet slightly terrifying) new journey as a high school librarian. ;)

a bit of backstory, if I may...
A few nights ago I was sitting in my favorite chair in the living room talking to my husband.  It was getting late, and I had just come in from moving a load of boxes into my living room from my office.  I was tired, hot, sweaty and badly in need of a giant-sized Mason jar of sweet tea and a foot rub. 

I was feeling a bit defeated, if you want to know the truth.  My personal belongings had somehow multiplied while living in my office and while I had assured my hubby on my way out the door that this would be the last trip, it indeed would not be.  Not only that, but I still had to make a trip into the office to finalize some paperwork.  And a new box of books had just arrived to be processed.  And...well, you get the picture.

Apparently I get melancholy when tired, hot, and sweaty with loads of work looming and few days to get it all done.  I began to list to my husband all the reasons I was afraid I wouldn't be successful in this new endeavor. To go back to Wonder Woman, I had forgotten that I possess bullet-proof bracelets.  

He listened patiently (well, full disclosure--he IS a counselor, after all.  he listens patiently professionally, so he is quite good at it), waited for me to finish and then just looked at me and asked some very simple questions.  Questions that got me to calm down & reflect & realize that even with the learning curve that comes with every something new--I'VE.GOT.THIS.  (and you do, too!)

I've got this because I care. I have passion for what I do. I LOVE learning new things and taking on new challenges. I've got this because I know down deep that every "failure" is leading me to success if I have the right mindset. If I remember my true identity as an Amazon warrior with bullet-proof bracelets..

One of the things I had become quite nervous about was filling my predecessor's shoes when it comes to organization and systems. She was a MASTER organizer, let me tell you.  Color-coded everything type of gal. MAD skills in this arena.

I tend to be a bit more...

Around here I'm known more for my impromptu bursts into song and my over-the-top displays and my love for matching readers with books they will love than for a beautifully color-coded organizational system.

After my epiphany I realize that while she definitely had her gifts and talents, so do I.  And it is OKAY if they are not exactly the same.  It doesn't make either one of us less.  

My good friend who is taking my current spot next year has shared that she feels the same way about stepping into "my" spot.

She says it will be hard to follow a rock star.  I get it.  I really do.
But what she is forgetting is that SHE is a rock star, too.

I got to thinking about this late last night and I realized that out of all the librarians in my school district there are really none of us that have the same particular gifts/talents/skill sets.  I mean, yes, we all know how to do the craft that is library work, but each of us approaches things in such a different (yet equally beautiful) manner.

As my brilliant friend Julie said at our writers group gathering Tuesday night---there is room for both Billy Joel and Elton.  They are BOTH rock stars even though they have vastly different styles.

If what you are doing is WORKING,
If kids are IN your library and WANT to be there,
If you are passionate about what you do and you share that with your students and teachers,
If your library is a hopping hub and heart of the school,
That's what is important, no matter your exact style.

Be YOU and be open to learning from others.  Be YOU and be open to sharing what you know with others. Not everything you learn or share will be an exact match for you, but if you are open to it, you just take what DOES work, tweak it and make it your own.

Remember your bracelets.  Remember your eye patch.  Remember the roar of the crowd.
Because YOU are Wonder Women, Pirates, and Rock Stars, people. 
Now go out there and be AMAZING.

Saturday, June 7, 2014


It is the weekend after school has officially let out.  I have now brought several loads of crap boxes of stuff home from the library.  It is currently all living in my living room.  I am not done yet, but I am getting very, very close!

It feels really good to dig through my office & library belongings; to cull down and box up, as I prepare the space for my replacement (who just happens to be one of my best friends as well as a colleague!).  I feel BOLD.  I feel COURAGEOUS.  I am excited about this new adventure.

At the end of each school year I always spend a bit of time in reflection.  Have I accomplished my goals?  What can I improve for next year?  How can I better reach my students?  How can I better help my teachers?  This year I have the opportunity to reflect upon not only the 2013-2014 school year, but the past 11 years as a middle school librarian. 

1. I am so very proud of my time bringing both One Book, One School and Read-It-Forward to my library.  We have had some amazing author visits and kids who have never owned their own books before now DO. 
2. Teen Read Week celebrations have been a highlight.  I've had the opportunity to partner with various community members and organizations.  The Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin, Texas has been especially good to me through the years---always coming up with amazing lessons to fit the theme and bringing interesting animals to visit the library.  I will be forever grateful!
3. I leave a collection that is rated Exemplary according to TEA standards of age and size.  It has taken YEARS to get to this point, but I'm so very proud.
4.  My library has a great reputation for being a warm, welcoming place.  
5.  The relationships I've built with students and faculty are my most prized accomplishments.  I am thankful for each and every teacher that has allowed me to collaborate with them and has shared his or her students with me.  I am thankful for every student who has crossed my path.  I've learned so much from each and every one of them.

Things to improve upon:
1. Patience with myself in learning curve situations.  I still suffer from Superwoman syndrome a bit, I'm afraid.  
2. Did you read my very first paragraph?  I have too.much.stuff.  I really do.  It is true that I have stored all my library display items, gifted & talented, AND Girl Scout stuff in my library office---but I do plan to really work on paring down my stuff.  It is a new chance to be more zen about belongings. With that stated, there is something to be said for having just about anything anyone needs----from craft supplies when forgotten-but-due-today projects are remembered by my students to oh-my-gosh-my-zipper-just-broke safety pins (I cannot tell you how many kiddos have needed these over the years).  

If I were sticking around the middle school, I'd have many things to add to a 3rd section of these reflective lists titled:  Still to be completed, but since I'm moving on up to the high school, I'm skipping that portion and adding a new one instead----a wish list, a dream list, a oh-boy-I-need-to-learn-this and a wowza-wonder-if-this-would-work list.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A little Slice from Today...

I started the dreaded yearly task of inventory in the library today.  Last year my extremely expensive handheld device proved itself to be a true piece of junk, and so I began with a new strategy this year: laptops on carts with the scanners plugged into my USB ports.  Call me old school if you will, but I am IN LOVE with this way of doing inventory now---seriously the easiest and most productive day of scanning this gal has ever had.

The cart enables me to immediately remove the "weird things" from the shelves--the books that show up as "not found" or have some other weird problem and just place them on the cart so I can deal with them during a scanning break.  It allows me to see RIGHT THEN & THERE what is scanning and what isn't. No uploading--just enable wifi on that bad boy and you have immediate gratification.  Plus, I have the perfect spot for my coffee cup right beside me.  If there is an inventory nirvana, this is it.

I worked with one laptop and cart today until my oh-so-fabulous library clerk kids arrived for their afternoon elective classes, and then I fixed up a second cart.
2 class periods with kids working in pairs + my earlier contribution =we are nearly 1/2 DONE 

This is epic.

I teach Norse mythology to my last group of 8th graders tomorrow, and then I'll inventory again with my students in the afternoon...and you know what?  I'm actually NOT dreading it at all!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Time to go a-viking!

It is time again--one of my favorite times of the year.  Time to teach world mythologies!  Since this is my very last year to teach it, I'm ready to ROCK IT OUT, baby!  :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Closing Time

Closing Time,
Every new beginning comes from 
some other beginning's end...

And the boxing up/cleaning out/throwing away has begun.  Farewell dear giant popcorn display, you served me well!

It is the end of the school year.
We are in the
I've been through many YOEs, as this is my 23rd year to be an educator. 

For the past few years I've had it easy.  
Not this year.
Sure, I'll have inventory, writing reports, hounding the kids for missing books, assisting teachers in the Blitz (what we call the small window of time to prep the kids who did not pass the STAAR on the first go-round to pass it on the second) by teaching 2 sections of 8th grade Advanced ELA classes (novel study: Red Badge of Courage); basically, all the usual stuff.  

What makes this year different is that I am leaving.  In the words of Semisonic, I am gathering up my jackets, and moving it to the exits.

I'm leaving my middle school campus.  Oh, what adventures I've had there!  For 12 years Mike Moses Middle School has been my second home.  "A middle school librarian" is how I've defined myself.  I've met so many folks, had so many experiences, had some truly wonderful administrators and grown tremendously as a professional, and as a person in general.  I was blessed to have folks believe in me, and allow me to do some really awesome things like One Book, One School, Read-it-Forward, and author visits (over the years we've had Neal Shusterman, Roland Smith, Greg Neri, Jill Alexander, for example).  It is because I was at middle school that I have had the opportunity to be on the Lone Star committee and the Spirit of Texas MS committee.  

I loved the trips taking students to NYC with my dear friend and colleague Teresa Ragland, a force of nature; a whirling dervish of talent and the single best theatre teacher I've ever had the pleasure to know.  She left our campus a few years back, and while I've loved all who have come after her, Teresa has a sparkle that very few on this earth can claim.

long story. NYC joke from the time we got STUCK there for 4 extra days due to a freak snowstorm.  Good times.  

Most of my friends are folks I work with.  We've seen each other through tears of joy, and tears of sadness. We've baked for one another, sent kind notes to one another--and OH, have we ever laughed together! Both my children were born while I have worked at this campus. These are my people.  I will miss them. 

My students are in shock.  I'm happy to say the 8th graders seem thrilled.  It tickled me today when my library assistants were quietly arguing among themselves as to which one of them inspired me to move on up to HS with them.  My 7th and 6th graders are  I've been there so long, and taught so many of their older siblings---well, I think they pretty much thought I was a given, you know?

My Girl Scout troop has met at my campus for the past 4 years.  All the glitter, chocolate fountains, GS cookies, and rounds of Make New Friends that have taken place in my library!  My library.   

Mine for only about a month longer.  And then I will truly turn in my keys for the first time ever (I am always going up over the summer working on something or other or gathering books to read) and I will be on my way up the road.  

And my life will be filled with new adventures and new friends (hey--I AM a Girl Scout, so I will definitely make new friends, but keep the old---one is silver and the other gold!) and new opportunities for fabulous growing experiences that will happen because I am at a high school.  

And I will laugh and sing and sprinkle glitter and the love of books where ever I am, because that's just how I roll, folks.  

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A collaborative poetry experiment

Had SUCH a great time working on a collaborative poetry project with some amazing middle school librarians across the state.  SO thankful to Sue Fitzgerald to coming up with the plan and organizing us all in this endeavor!

The words in this Wordle came from multiple groups of my 8th grade students (it is spring, it is after STAAR, they ARE in 8th grade---so you'll notice some "lame" and "boring" in there!)

We had a great time and can't wait to do it again next year!

Check out a larger image of our Wordle creation by clicking the image!
Wordle: Our School is...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

And we're cookin' with gas

SO much happening much that it is almost a bit overwhelming to ponder, actually.  But in a good way.  ;)

I posted about my amazing TLA experience, which I am still delighting in, actually--especially since I've starting reading my TBR pile that I brought back with me!  OH MY GOODNESS, the TREASURES I was given!  The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, Bird Box by Josh Malerman, and Dangerous by Shannon Hale have all set the bar pretty high, folks.  They are each different, but absolutely delicious reads.

But moving on from my TLA adventures, I've had some pretty exciting news since coming back home that I am really thrilled to share. I applied for, interviewed, and was hired to be the new high school librarian beginning in the new school year.  Our current HS librarian is retiring, and I have really felt pulled to this new experience for some time.  I am giddy with all the possibilities that this change will bring.  At the same time, I have had 12 really great years at my current school, and it is truly bittersweet to leave all my friends and my library.  I've put blood, sweat, and tears (literally!) into making that space amazing, and you can't find better folks to work with than at my current school.

Still...I am pulled, I am thrilled, and I am ready.  Let's DO this!  I'll keep you posted every step of the way!

Read on,
ps--Did I mention today is World Book Night?   I was a book-giver again and got to give Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children out today.  I gave several out before the testing today---and I had multiple kids come up to me outside waiting in the car line that they are LOVING this book!  YAY!  I love being the resident book fairy!  Best.Job.Ever!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

TLA Awesomeness

I've spent the past week in beautiful San Antonio, Texas for the Texas Library Association conference.  As always, I've come back feeling refreshed and renewed and loaded with tons of great new ideas to enhance my library.  Here are just a few of the too-many-to-name highlights from the week:

  • Meeting new librarian friends and sharing ideas
  • Seeing "old" librarian friends and sharing ideas
  • Listening to/meeting/having conversations with amazing authors
  • the Nerdy Book Club session.  Amazing.  Inspiring. 
  • Presenting with the fabulous folks that make up the #txlchat moderators
  • Being inducted as the District 8 Secretary for the 2014-2015 year
  • Spending my birthday at the conference.  ;)
  • Great sessions on everything from creating your own cons to making poetry exciting and relevant to lists of new books to read and pass on to my students
  • The amazing publishing houses and other vendors that are so generous to us at the conference.
As always it was a great time, and I'm still a bit on information overload in the best possible way.  I love learning and growing in my profession!

With author Jason Reynolds.
When both Sharon Draper and Laurie Halse Anderson describe someone as the
 next author to watch, you take note!
TLA book swag!
Oh the Horror!  author panel with some amazing folks (why yes,  Kami Garcia and Jonathan Maberry are up there!)
"Lead out Loud" was our conference theme---and author James Patterson was our first keynote speaker.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Our Library Showcase

Here's a peek at what I've been working on a bit today!  This year, in an effort to provide more visibility to all the cool, amazing, creative things we have going on in our libraries, we as a library group have taken the time to snap some photos each month or so and then I pull them together for us into a fun format (obviously this month we are using Animoto!) so the district can show-off our showcase on the district website.

I think it is SO important to let our little lights shine---and let our folks know about some of the cool events/displays/etc. that go on in the library.

Hope you enjoy!

Mrs. S

Monday, March 31, 2014

Ain't no goals like pirate goals!

Today is officially the last day of my Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life writing challenge, and the day before Camp NaNoWriMo and month 2 of my YAB Bootcamp begins.  I think it is incredibly important as a Teacher-Librarian, as well as a writer-in-progress to push myself to keep growing my passions.  It means I'm walking the walk I ask my students to walk.

So, it looks like it is time to set a few new goals.  For the month, and smaller for the week. Here goes:

Month of April:

  • Now that I've completely revamped my POV and my MC I need to start.completely.over on my WIP.  This is GOOD news, and I'm pumped about it. Time to make some magic.
  • By magic, I mean:  actually write.  Since receiving some really helpful feedback I've been working on some important pre-writing stuff like figuring out how the heck this new version begins.
  • April is a busy month.  A very busy month. For one thing, I will be gone for several days to the Texas Library Association's conference, with zero writing-on-my-novel time.  I am SO excited about this conference---and believe me, I'll be taking notes and I'll be doing plenty of people-watching (and also picking the brains of published authors every chance I get!) but I'm going to do myself a favor and NOT set myself up for failure by creating a massive word count for this week.  Ain't. gonna. happen. and I'm okay with that.

1st week of April:

  • Write EVERY day this week.  Move the story forward.  Get this first chapter rewritten. 
  • I'll be giving the STAAR test 2 days this week.  This gives me plenty of think time.  Might as well put it to good use, right?  While I can't actually write anything down until after the testing, I can do plenty of working things out in my head while I'm pacing the room like a tiger in a cage.
  • Since my YAB bootcamp team captain has mentioned creating a new BINGO board for the month of April.  Bingo goal?  Get one this week!

Let's do this!

Mrs. S

Sunday, March 30, 2014

My #whylib

I'm pretty hooked on Twitter, y'all.  I mean, seriously---some of the BEST PD I get, I get from my tweeps. I love the sharing, the collaborating, and really, just the awesome people I "meet" there, in general.

This morning before the kids woke up I was perusing my Twitter feed and came across Andy Plemmon's #whylib tweet.  I followed the link and read his story and was immediately inspired.  Back to Twitter, with my mug of coffee in hand, I began to see more and more of this #whylib hashtag.  Of course, anything that comes from the gurus involved in thinking up this cool idea is fabulous, so I just had to join in!
 (seriously--I mean @MrSchuReads, @plemmonsa, @dmcordell, @libraryreeder, @actinginthelib, and @LibraryFanatic---who WOULDN'T want to be associated with anything they are creating, right?)

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone's story--we librarians sure are a diverse and amazing group, aren't we?

Time to add mine to the mix!

I come from a family of readers and story-tellers; from a family of preachers and teachers and folks who loved the rhythm of both language and music.  I cannot remember there ever being a time when my home was not filled with the magic of words and story---from listening to Wicked Wilson Picket on my parent's vinyl records, to my uncle reciting Poe at family get-togethers; from the sermons my Papaw wrote and preached to my mother reading aloud to me from the beginning of my life (Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb-dum-ditty-dum-ditty-dum, dum, dum!); from the gentle cadence of my grandfather telling me about that 'ole lion that was in his den just waiting for Daniel to be thrown in to the sound of my grandmother's laughter as she told me funny stories from her childhood, the power and magic of words has always been a constant in my life.

As my brothers and I got older we looked forward to our every-Saturday trips to the public library in town. How I loved reading fairy tales from all around the world and when I was a bit older I loved reading biographies from the glamour days of Hollywood.  I was the kid that fell asleep reading nearly every night.

With that being said it may seem rather strange that it never occured to me that I should consider becoming  a librarian.

I was an elementary ed major in college (Interdisciplinary Studies, they called it then).  I graduated early and became a kindergarten teacher, eventually teaching every grade at some point or another in elementary schools.  I adored my work until testing started to rise in importance.  The day my sweet 3rd grader, Nathaniel, came to me in tears over his test anxiety is a day I will carry with me forever.  Here was this beautiful little soul--this smart, quiet, hard-working kiddo with tears in his eyes telling me he wasn't good enough because of some stupid numbers on a stupid test that reflected nothing of who HE WAS, but rather how well he tested that day---and something within me realized that I could not be a part of that . (Let me be sure to say here that I realize there are many great teachers out there fighting the good fight every day despite these exact circumstances--I am in no way saying I have anything over you, and I am SO grateful that you are out there---what I AM saying is---that this is when I realized that despite my love for kids, for teaching, and for making the world a better place--that the regular classroom was not meant to be my niche any longer.

The universe was telling me it was time to make a change.

A little voice in my head kept whispering...what about the library? but I kept squashing it down.  After all, I was loud, for Pete's sake. Even my laughter is loud--and I do so love to laugh. I was a theatre person.   Yes, I loved books, I loved reading and recommending books to everyone I knew---but a librarian? Naaaaa.

I've read with a bit of jealous longing about those that became librarians because they had such amazing experiences with their librarians growing up.  I wish that was my history, too. But sometimes the truth isn't that pretty---and folks, I had some scary school librarians during my growing up years.

My elementary school librarian struck fear in the hearts of all who knew her.  My biggest memory of going to the library in 3rd grade was being yelled out for getting the wrong copy of the book she was making me read.  How was I supposed to know there were 2 different books titled Big Red? Clearly, I came back with the wrong one.  Properly shamed in front of my entire class, I finally found the right copy and checked it out, fighting back my desire for both tears and foot-stomping.  I never even bothered opening that book. (I remember what I was wearing that day, y'all, if that tells you anything about the depth of this experience.  A red and blue dress with white polka-dots, in case you were wondering.)

My middle school librarian was frightening enough to me that I read all of Dicken's by the time I was in 7th grade (these were shelved fairly close to the library doors and to the circ desk, which made for the quickest trip to the library possible--the good news?  I loved Dickens. )

I never felt welcomed.  I never felt wanted.  I never felt important.

I'm not sure exactly what made me begin to listen to that little voice---maybe it was the sheer persistence of that little seed of an idea.  What about the library?  I do know that when it finally dawned on me that I could take everything my students and I loved about my classroom and apply it to the library as the librarian that I became truly excited about signing up for library school.  My ultimate library goal?  EVERYONE that walks through the library doors will feel welcomed and wanted and important.  Readers will feel that way.  Non-readers will feel that way.  Students, parents, faculty and staff, community members and guests will ALL feel that my library is their library, because the truth IS our library.  It is both a haven and a hive of learning.  Whether my kids come in because they need a book they already have in mind, or want a recommendation for a great read that suits them, or they need to work on a project or print something for a class, or they want to play a quick game of checkers after school, or they need a bit of a respite from the loud cafeteria, or they need a hug in the midst of a no-good-very-bad-day, I want the library to be that place for them.

This year is my 14th year as a school librarian.  I can truly tell you I am joyful about my work because it is my passion and my calling.  I continue to seek to learn and grow, to be mentored and to mentor.  I received my Master of Instructional Technology in 2009 because I have a strong desire to stay on top of all that libraries and librarians can be and do for our patrons.  I follow amazing folks on Twitter and other social media for the same reason.

Why did I become a school librarian?  Because it encompasses EVERYTHING magical and wonderful about the power of words and story that I loved growing up and combines that with my love for working with and helping others grow in every form of literacy.

Because, in short, it is the best.gig.ever.

What's your story?  #whylib?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Writing--follow your passion!

Today YA author ViVi Barnes visited my school to speak with some of our 8th graders about following your dreams and about writing.  I have to say, she inspired me as much as she inspired the kids----to not give up when it gets tough, to work hard, to find your passion and follow it with all you've got.  

She is the author of Olivia Twisted, a YA modern retelling of Dickens' Oliver Twist.  She is also a Nacogdoches native, which made her visit really inspiring to our kids.  They can see themselves in her, and if she can live her dreams coming from little bitty ole Nacogdoches they can, too, right?  Right!

This week, as I embark on the last week of my Two Writing Teachers Slice-of-Life challenge and another week of my YA Buccaneers spring bootcamp I feel a renewed energy.  Between ViVi's visit, and my beloved alma mater's Cinderella story visit to the NCAA championships (Axe 'Em!) I am reminded that anything is possible if you are willing to work for it.

This is a life lesson that is so important for my students to hear andfor me to be reminded of personally.  

Today was a GREAT day.  Let's rock this writing thing.  

Mrs. S

Friday, March 21, 2014

Poetry in the library display

It's time to celebrate poetry in the library with a few special displays!  The bulletin board area is now completed---I'll post some of the other fun things we've added once we've finished them!

We added the Rainbow Dash My Little Pony (my daughter's newest Build-a-Bear) when the students saw it in my office and commented on how cute it was---seriously, these middle school kiddos are loving this retro plush on my display!

Student aides created some spine label poetry for the display area, as well.  I thought they did an amazing job on them.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Walking the Plank, or A bit from my current YA WIP (YABbootcamp challenge)

Tonight's post is a bit scary to post---
BUT I firmly believe in stepping out and doing what drives you despite your fears (and, since we ask students to do this ALL.THE.TIME, I think it is important that we walk our talk, too.)

As part of my YABbootcamp challenge, I am posting a small portion of my current WIP (work in progress) on my blog tonight.

I'd love some feedback on it.

Background: this is the opening of my YA historical novel.  The story moves through time a bit as different strands of it are told from different points of view. It is 1943 in this chapter.

One of the most exciting things to me about working on this story, in particular, is that it combines several of my loves--history, genealogy, and writing.  This book will be somewhat loosely based on my grandfather's family.

I've included a photo of my great-aunt Jackie.  Wasn't she a beauty? She is the real-life just older sister of my character Celia---and I imagine Celia looked very much like this, although to date I have not been able to locate a photo---still working on that!

My daddy is a grey-eyed devil.  I swear he is.

Lord, but I can see him there on the front porch watching me come home from Bud and Neva’s.  He stands, immovable and solid. I can’t see those eyes from here, of course, but I feel them as they watch me.  

Daddy’s face is a mask; his eyes are wet stones, revealing little of his mood, his mouth unsmiling.
This isn’t good---most times, if he’s laughing you’re safe.  If he’s drinking, he’s not laughing—and no good can come of it.  I hear some folks are happy drunks.  Not my daddy.  Not happy at all.

The near constant worry that I mostly manage to keep pushed to the back of my mind tugs at me now making it harder to breathe.  Sometimes the weight of it is just so heavy that I can hardly bear it.  Now, despite the utter gorgeousness of this beautiful spring day I am suddenly left low and worn and weary.  

It happens just like that.  One second you’re whistling a happy tune, feeling just fine, and the next you’re looking at the unsmiling face of a mean old man filled to the gills with cheap gin and bitter frustration.

When you live with a drunk, and when that drunk is your daddy, you learn a second language.  A language without any words.  A language of signals that give clues to the madness around you. Clues to what level that madness has descended at any given time.

 If you’re one of the lucky ones, this keeps you safe; mostly.  If you’re one of the lucky ones.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

YAB Spring Writing Bootcamp 2014 (SOL 2014 Day 16)

I'm late to the party, but have just joined in the YA Buccanneers Spring Writing Bookcamp (March-May) and couldn't be more excited!  So March will be filled with not ONE, but TWO amazing writing challenges.

I've been added to Team Denali (the Great Ones!) and although I've come in late, my team captain has been incredibly helpful and supportive.  I actually wrote nearly 1000 words on my YA novel-in-progress today during a word sprint she posted via Twitter!  My goal is to actually reach that magic 1000 number for a total word count today.

Yes, writing (finishing) a novel is important to me (publishing one--or several!--- someday is also on my bucket list) so moving forward in my goal is lovely, but what really makes this is extraordinarily valuable to me is that when I'm pumped about writing, I can pass that energy along to my students and colleagues who also write.  We grow stronger by boosting one another up.  THIS is the type of competition I enjoy--the kind that makes us ALL better. In fact, the power of these challenges is so apparent to me now that I intend to create some challenges in the same vein specifically for my students---for both reading AND writing.

Keep reading.  Keep writing.  Keep moving forward!

edited to add this great bootcamp BINGO that outlines some of my goals!  
a huge thank you to Heidi Sinnett for all the inspiration!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Home again, home again (my SOL Day 15)

photo from via Google images 

We are coming to the end of spring break.  It has been a chilly, rainy Saturday and we spent the bulk of it on the road coming home from a short visit with my mom.  Four hours on the road.  In the rain--at times torrential downpour in nature, at times gentle and sleepy.  

One of my brothers and his family live in Mom's area, and it is always so much fun to get all the little cousins together for some special family fun time.  We shopped, we cooked together, we ate, we played.  A house filled with 5 children, however, is never quiet.  At least, in my family.  :)  Did I mention 3 of the 5 are 4 year olds?  And 2 of those are twins?  Yeah, quiet is not the word here.

We had a great time, and I remembered something very important.  Even though my writing goals and challenges are very important to me, and even though I love writing, sometimes that must be set to the side.  Rather than feeling frustrated or melancholy about that I will embrace these fleeting moments of childhood cousin fun (and chaos!) and be IN the moment enjoying it as well.  

I'm behind in my Slice of Life challenge, but we sure had fun!