In the back of the library, scattered around the couches, 7th graders were reading their homemade picture books to elementary students. One of the hosts for this event was our librarian, Meg Allison, who helped the 7th graders make their picture books and arranged the visit from the younger kids.
Meg has been at U-32 for two years now. She’s has been trying to make the library a more central connection for all students.
When / why / how did you decide to become a teacher?
Well I didn’t always think I would be a teacher. It was sort of inevitable.
Both my parents are teachers. I grew up in St. Johnsbury. My father taught at Danville High School and later at St. Johnsbury Academy, where I was a graduate. My mother is a first and second grade teacher.
Even though I didn’t want to be in education, I certainly did internships in high schools and elementary schools. I studied abroad in South Africa and did my whole thesis on the education systems there.
I just didn’t think I would go into education, so I decided to become a librarian… to be a rebel, which really isn’t being a rebel, so I worked in public libraries.
Then a job opened up at Moretown School where I live.
It’s in my blood to be in education. Years ago I also worked at the Kellogg Hubbard Library and the Children’s Library in Montpelier.
So a lot of the students here, I remember when they were preschoolers and they would come to story times.
Of course they won’t remember me so much, if they were 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 years old. I did not always recognize them but I certainly remembered their names and I always recognize their appearance.
It feels like home even though I’m in a whole new school and a different community. Coming to U-32 felt like a full circle.
How would you describe your teaching style? How has your style changed over time?
I like to refer to myself as a teacher librarian because I love to teach. I love designing instruction that is hands on for the students that they’re constructing their own knowledge. I’m not on the stage. I’m more of a guy on the side facilitating students’ learning experience and opportunity.
I’m constantly learning. We just don’t learn when were in school. You know, the bell rings and you go to bell to bell. We should be learning constantly, not just when we’re in our classroom.
The biggest change for me during the past two years has been teaching at this level. Prior to this I spent almost my whole career with elementary school students. The biggest change after these two years has been learning to work with middle school and high school students. I think I’m finally getting into that groove.
Can you describe what learning looks like in your class, using a specific assignment?
Laura and I have this model, embedded librarianship, where we go to classrooms. Right now, we’re working on 7th grade picture book project in the middle school. We worked with the 9th grade team for their culture unit, embedding technology and information.
My classroom is actually is very flexible and always changing and that can make it challenging because I really don’t get to know a set of students that well. Then the beauty of it is that I get the potential of working with all the students.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your career?
The biggest challenge was when I was at the Moretown School. Our school flooded during Tropical Storm Irene. I know a lot of communities here in Central Vermont were affected and homes flooded, and our village flooded.
That was on the night before the first day of school.
My library was gutted, all the books had to be removed and reshelved and reshelved again. We didn’t started regular school classes until 5 or 6 weeks into the school year.
I guess at the end of the day what we realized is that it’s community that matters most.