Five HCS teachers graduate from librarian cohort program
Hampton City Schools is excited to announce that five classroom teachers have graduated from the librarian cohort program.
In the spring of 2019, Hampton City Schools developed its first library cohort program in partnership with Old Dominion University. Carole Birdsong, Laurena Coates, Anne Crawley, Jennifer Holmes, and Lacey Whetsel received the opportunity to participate in the program from several applicants. This cohort recently graduated and not only is HCS proud to fill vacancies in the library, but proud that they were home-grown in the division.
Here's what each of the graduates had to say about their experience and new endeavor:
Carole Birdsong: “I have always been interested in librarianship. I worked as a library assistant when HCS had them, and also at a public library, while in college. So when this opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance! What a wild ride it has been! Sleepless nights, exciting conferences, collaborating with HCS colleagues, and creating a network of new librarians only solidifies my excitement for this part of my educational journey!”
Anne Crawley: “After 20 years of teaching, I wanted to try something new; however, I wanted to still work with children. I was debating between going back to school for a degree in librarianship or as a reading specialist. When the cohort program was offered to employees, I felt that it was a great opportunity that should not be missed. This experience left me drained on most nights, but having my family and friends being such great supporters and helping me be successful got me through this program. Whether that was cooking dinner or explaining the new technology to me, all of it was needed to get me through. It was also wonderful having a cohort of ladies to go through the program with as well. Being able to collaborate, receive gentle reminders and having that support group made the time go by quickly.”
Jennifer Holmes: “It’s amazing where your career can lead you. When I started teaching 21 years ago, I just knew that I was going to be a kindergarten teacher for life. It was not to be though; after seven years I was moved to where I was needed. I soon gained experience teaching 3rd grade and 1st grade. Luckily, I was able to remain at my ‘Home by the Trees’. Along the way, I realized that no matter the grade level, one of my favorite things about teaching was introducing children to the joys of reading. I also saw that there was a need for librarians in the district and especially at my school. I jumped at the chance to join the Librarians Cohort. The coursework was challenging, but I had the support of my family and the cohort members to help me get through. We were a well-balanced team - always helping each other out when needed. Now I am a librarian and I couldn’t be happier! Despite our pandemic restrictions, I’ve really enjoyed putting good books in the hands of our students. It’s January now, but I still get excited when I see that I have requests on the ‘On Shelf Holds’ report! Participating in the Book Bus has been another favorite of mine and I hope we continue it even when we return to a normal school environment.”
Lacey Whetsel: “I have been a teacher for eight years and was lucky enough to be able to become a librarian for my ninth year! I taught at Forrest Elementary for my first eight years and have since been hired at Andrews PreK-8 as a school librarian. I have always loved reading! When I was a kid my mom would constantly find me with my face buried in a book. I loved how it took me on many different adventures that were out of the realm of possibilities for my family. Reading has always been something I have enjoyed, even when teaching the kids how to read. So when the opportunity to join the cohort presented itself, I IMMEDIATELY jumped at the chance. It was such a fun experience, full of friendships, conferences, lots of projects and late nights. The coursework had its challenges but it was nothing that we couldn’t overcome, especially when we could collaborate. Being able to collaborate with my cohort peers as well as others in the program allowed me the opportunity to gain more insight and become even more excited about this new part of my journey in education! I have stored and implemented some of the ideas gained through this process. I am so glad I was able to be part of the group of ladies that became close friends and colleagues through the cohort.”
Laurena Coates: “Teaching in the classroom for eight years at different levels was a wonderful experience. Using books to introduce topics and to branch out in those topics was a favorite way to get students excited about what was to be explored. It was also a way to link academic learning with real life experiences. Students quickly connected that reading is something you do more than just for class or classroom assignments! I was thrilled to be selected to extend learning in the library. Working with my cohort and getting support from my family made a challenging journey worth every step. There were frustrating moments made easier with the collaboration of the cohort. We problem-solved together and provided support to each other throughout the entire program. I am glad to say that support is continuing as we have settled into our new assignments!”