Saturday, November 26, 2016

A Recent Graduate Shares Her Library Story

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I remember Anna from the 2013-2014 school year. She would frequently come in the library during lunch free flow times. I recall that we were required to have students stay in the library during lunch until the bell rang to cut down on unsupervised traffic in the halls. One particular day, Anna expressed her feelings about this rule in a very rude way to two of our library staff. (That year, it was Mrs. Misti Bell and Mrs. Peggy Schaeffer). For some reason, I wasn't there at that particular time. (I had been called to a classroom to help with a tech issue most likely.) When I returned, both of them let me know about Anna's outburst.

It would have been very easy to ignore Anna from this point on. Instead, I thought I would just be honest with her when the opportunity presented itself. One day, I caught her in the hall between classes, and I called her over. Instead of reprimanding her in a forceful way, I decided to tell her I had heard something about her. She was probably assuming it was something positive. I remember telling her that I was disappointed in how she handled her complaint with our library personnel, especially since we all work hard to continuously serve students. I also explained that the rule to keep students in the library was to keep them safe since we are all responsible for them. I told her I wish that she had found a more respectful way to complain.

At that moment, I remember wondering how she would receive this. It could have gone bad.  It turned out that Anna was ready to receive the message. That day she went and apologized to Misti and Peggy. Anna changed at that moment. In fact, this led to more than two years of her becoming a worker and leader in the library. Anna was one of our first students to Skype and read to younger students in other states for the World Read Aloud Day and Read Across America events in the 2015-2016 school year. I also shared her transformative story at the MIE Expert US Form in Denver during June 2016. It still inspires me to this day to think that had I not reached out to her, she might have never formed the stronger relationship with our library team. Furthermore, she had to reach out to us to become more involved. The event worked both ways.

Anna came by to share her essay!

Anna still comes to visit us in the library even though she has graduated and is currently attending college. I had a special surprise this week when she dropped by to deliver an essay she had written about this important event. She didn't have to write this for me, especially after being out of high school for six months! I was so excited about her sharing her thoughts in the following essay that I wanted to share it here on the blog.

How Apologies Form Relationships

by Anna Lear

     How apologies form relationships these are words right? Wrong! These words mean what they sound like. This story could change your life or change your perspective on life. We all have something that changed our life, so I want to tell you a story about how two words changed my life. When I was in tenth grade I never thought how two words could change a lot of things. It was lunch time and I went to the library to just print out a paper. There was a rule at the time that you had to stay in the library if you went in there. I thought that rule was stupid so I was mad and took it out on two sweet librarians. Let's just say what I said wasn't the best thing to say and it hurt them. Later that day I knew what I said was very wrong, so I went and apologized to them. I know that just saying I'm sorry wouldn't change a lot well that's what I thought. After I apologized to them they were very forgiving and we gave each other a hug. That day changed my life. I was in the library everyday either to hangout and talk or to help them out with stuff. I was in there every morning before class and every lunch time. They were my favorite people to talk to everyday they always had the right advice for everything I asked. If I never apologized I would have never had the bond I have now with them. I had the opportunity to do a lot of things at the library. Getting the opportunity to Skype with other states was amazing. Also getting to help with The Great Gatsby collaboration was awesome too. They made the best three years of high school the best it could be. I wake up everyday and wonder what would it have been like if I hadn't said those two words: "I'm sorry". Mr. Evans, Mrs. Schaeffer, Mrs. Bell, and Mr. Borel were not only the best librarians but they are the best friends anybody could ask for. I learned so many things from them. So when people tell you that saying I'm sorry doesn't solve anything well trust me when I tell you that if forms a stronger relationship than people might think.


In the past, I have given up on many students that have been rude or haven't responded in the way I thought they should. Years of being around people have taught me that we never know what students (or adults) are dealing with outside of school. This doesn't mean that disrespect is ever an acceptable behavior. I have learned not to give up on students so easily. Each young person is a special individual full of potential. Often it is necessary to dig a bit deeper to find out what their interests might be so we can better connect with them. At times we have to listen to what they need to say. Sometimes we might be the only adult that is listening to them at school (or anywhere else).

Anna read to students in Iowa during her senior year

Anna's story is special to me because she transformed and became a strong part of our library program through this interaction several years ago. After connecting to young students in Texas and Iowa via Skype during senior year, I remember she told me one day she wanted to become a teacher. This wasn't because of our library program, she was taking an introductory education course at our school. We were able to give her an additional experience that supported that decision to explore teaching by connecting her to a larger world via the Internet. I also recall that she participated in a library Twitter education chat one evening during her senior year. All of these experiences added to her future educator "toolbelt".

There are learners like Anna in all school buildings across the world.  I hope that we all take the time to look for them. Frankly, I can't think of a better place to connect and engage students than in the school library. Let's all keep searching for these young people. When we find them, let's never give up on them! We never know how we might be able to help them grow into future leaders. It is truly wonderful that we have the ability to connect people, information, and technology in the library! Thank you, Anna, for enriching the Lakeside High School Library!

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