Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Caroline Kennedy Visit to Horace Mann School Library

This week I had the privilege of representing California School Library Association in a wonderful afternoon at Horace Mann School in Beverly Hills for a visit by Caroline Kennedy to the school library. The visit was hosted by Sheryl Weiss, a super teacher librarian, former colleague in Las Virgenes USD, and friend. Caroline Kennedy’s visit was part of her tour as Honorary Chair of National Library Week. She joined a fourth grade class visiting the library, and she, Sheryl, and the students talked about favorite books, reading, poetry, and what the library offers.

Ms. Kennedy, who has authored a number of books and just published her fourth poetry collection, Poems to Learn by Heart, related memories of sharing and memorizing poems when she was young. She encouraged the students to read and memorize poems as something that would stay with them throughout their lives. She talked about how poetry goes straight to the heart, and how poems remind her of her family and friends and how they shared poetry together. Now, when she hears a poem, it reminds her of the friends or family and the poem. I certainly related to her message; I have many fond memories of reading poems with my family as a child, and I can still recite them and enjoy remembering when I first learned them.
Sheryl Weiss and Caroline Kennedy share their experiences with books and poetry with Horace Mann 4th Grade class
Caroline Kennedy and Sheryl Weiss also talked to the class about favorite books, why they like to read, what they can do to encourage other people to read, and why the library is a different from the classroom. One student shared how in the library she reads whatever she likes, while in the class they have to stick to specific class subjects. Caroline Kennedy agreed that the library is a place where you can follow whatever you are interested in, reading for fun.

So sadly, Beverly Hills USD, Sheryl's school district, has her position, and that of Diane Sikkenga, the one other K-8 Teacher Librarian in BHUSD, on the cut list. Tuesday's event was just one demonstration of the crucial role Sheryl plays as a teacher librarian in helping her students learn to appreciate literature and become information literate. I am counting on the district to find a way to rescind these cuts and retain these valuable teacher librarians for the sake of their students.