by Carolina Castillo
Ballew Early College High School, Buell Central Disciplinary Alternative Education Program, Sonia Sotomayor Early College High School in Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD
I am a teacher librarian. I taught 5th grade for 8 years and then pk-5th grade for six years, I quickly learned how important a librarian can be in the eyes of our students. Even though they didn’t remember my name and called me ‘Ms. Librarian,’ they knew that I was the person who connected them to that one book they had always being looking for. Then I challenged myself to a traveling librarian position. I moved among three alternative high school campuses; Ballew ECHS, Buell Central DAEP, Sonia Sotomayor ECHS as the librarian for each of these high schools. I dared myself to make a difference.
I could visit each campus for only a day and a half each week. I wanted to require every student to read for at least 15 minutes. I didn’t get a positive response from any of my students, aside from the few who said, “Are you crazy? I don’t think so. I haven’t read since elementary…” and other similar excuses. I thought, “O.K. then I will read to you!” I started looking for books that are at about a 3rd -4th grade reading level and worked alongside ELA teachers, using their lesson planning and plans as guides. Students would work on a lesson; I would come in to reinforce the lecture using a short story. I read to the students, asked them questions related to the lesson, then had them write a response – I was bringing them back to reading. I also showed a couple of book trailers to the students in hopes that someone would eventually pick up those great novels. The students got more reading than they had in quite a while.
Now in my 2nd year at these three alternative campuses, it is amazing to see these students coming in to my libraries to ask for a particular book or e book, or help with homework and resumes, or… I also love to see students walking around with a book hidden in the side pocket of their (dress code) camouflage pants or coming in to ask for a book just before a school break. Reading is something that they had not done in a while and thought they would never do again– now it is something they are proud of, that they have set goals for, and that they enjoy and see value in.
A win for this Traveling Librarian.