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