The Importance of Keeping Kudos


Those little notes you get from students over the years, the thank-you notes from parents, administrators, teachers; the illustration of you as a librarian with a superhero cape–I save these over the years and put them in a back drawer of my desk at work. It’s like making a deposit in a savings account. On my worst days, when I’ve made a mistake through poor judgment or omission, when I’m crying from a misunderstanding or a misinterpreted email, I remember that drawer. I don’t take them out and peruse them. Just knowing they’re in there seems to help.

Collection of Kudos

 Why I’m Leaving Now?

For years I believed I was working within a flawed system for positive change, but the recent teacher walkouts in right-to-work states have inspired me to act on a political level, in my district, state, and at the national level. In short, I want to use my teacher voice to advocate for public education, teacher wages and conditions, increased school funding and against punitive, high-stakes testing.

I’m going to write more editorials and letters to the editor, educate myself through reading and attending conferences on the issues, speak to the house and senate public education committees in the Texas Legislature, and work with TAMSA (Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment) and Diane Ravitch’s NPE (Network for Public Education). I plan to run for the Austin ISD school board in 2020 because I believe it’s time to have an actual educator on the school board.

Fifteen Years Is a Good Run

I’ve been the librarian of O. Henry Middle School for fifteen years, and I have loved almost every moment: the kids, the books, the shared mission, the community. Although my school library is adequately funded, far too many are not. Children are being short-changed the full library services they deserve throughout the state and nation. I want to devote my energy and voice toward changing that and advocating for you.

Last Thoughts

Stephen Krashen once told me: “You need two things to be a great librarian: love kids, love books.” Makerspaces and technology are wonderful tools and skills for librarians to teach and foster. Still, remember our core mission: to instill in young people a lifelong love of reading. As Austin ISD library leader, Elizabeth Polk, says: “Never forget: you may be the best thing that happens in a child’s day.”

O. Henry’s new librarian: Ashley Cross!

And now, as in fireworks on the Fourth of July: the Grand Finale.

with Kwame Alexander

with Jason Reynolds

with Laurie Halse Anderson

with Ernie Cline

Writers Workshop

Word Wizards

Cover-to-Cover Book Club

Students with Neal Shusterman

Book Club Girls with Advanced Readers Copies at TLA conference

Word Wizards with Jason Reynolds



Author: Sara Stevenson

I’m a reader, writer, swimmer, and a public middle school librarian. I love all things Italian. I was honored to be Austin ISD’s first librarian of the year in 2013.

Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Blog Topics

9 replies

  1. I’m honored to have worked with you, to call you my friend, and to have seen firsthand the transformations in middle school students to go from non or reluctant readers to avid bookworms. You have the gift of heart and intention, purpose and action. Thank you for all you’ve done for the O. Henry community. As you up your advocacy and political presence, Austin, Texas, and the US will be better for it.

  2. Sara, O. Henry is losing a treasure. I will never forget meeting you for the first time when I subbed for you. What a joy it was working with you over that year! Best of luck in future endeavors, I know you will move mountains!! Thank you for continuing the fight for educators and students!

  3. You are leaving incredibly large shoes to fill. O. Henry will miss you, so will Austin ISD, Austin, Texas and thousands of students.

  4. Dana,
    Thank you! I often say that the timing was perfect. You, Pete, and Caron had a plan to revive free, voluntary reading at O. Henry just before I arrived. Your commitment to Nanci Atwell’s Reading Workshop encouraged 8th graders to read for pleasure, and it spread to the entire school. It takes a village, and you were the town crier!

  5. Sara! I will miss you so! I am so thrilled for you and glad that you will remain in Austin in continue to advocate for children and books and reading. You are a treasure! I hope to get to work with you in other ways and that you stay in touch with BookSpring. Thank you for your support of our mission!

  6. We will miss you dearly at O. Henry. I wish I could have had more time to support you and get to know you. I know my children are better people because you were their librarian for two years. All the best to you!

  7. Brilliant and thoughtful.

  8. Thanks, everyone. Karen, Xander is the one to watch! Beth, thank you. Jill, I love Bookspring and will stay involved with the Readathon. D’Ann, I’ve enjoyed serving both Ian and Ajia (sp?). Great kids and readers. Thank you.

  9. I love how you look like one of the kids in every picture.

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