About Me

The Short Version:

Helen Cox Junior High School-English Teacher-February 2000 to December 2000

Hancock County Public Library System-Reference Clerk-May 2001 to October 2001

Hancock Co. Pub. Lib. Sys., Pearlington Branch-Branch Manager-October 2001 to July 2002

St. Martin North Elementary-Library Media Specialist-August 2002 to May 2003

East Hancock Elementary-Library Media Specialist-August 2003 to present

Education

Associate of Arts, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, 1994

B. A. Secondary Education emphasis English, University of New Orleans, 1999

MLIS, University of Southern Mississippi, 2006

National Board Certification in Library Media, 2008

The Long Version:

My formal experience begins with my BA in Secondary Education (1999) with emphasis in English from the University of New Orleans. I taught for a little while and then moved from New Orleans to Hancock County, Mississippi. There were no English teaching positions that I could find at the time (it was mid-year), so I was looking for anything, in or out of the school setting.

I took a job at Barnes & Noble, not for the money, but certainly for the love of books and being surrounded by them (yippee!) at least until something that paid better came along. Although I enjoyed it there, it was still retail and the hours and pay left a lot to be desired. Still looking daily for alternatives, I got an interview for a reference clerk at the Hancock County Public Library System. Thankfully, I was hired and I loved every second of my employment there ( beginning in May 2001).

My supervisor recognized my enthusiasm and encouraged me to go back to school for a Masters in Library and Information Science. I did and fell in love with librarianship. I realized that I could marry my two loves, teaching and libraries, by getting the additional certification on my teaching license. I took and passed the Praxis after I had completed several school library courses.

At this time, I was managing the Pearlington branch of the Hancock County Library System. I was lucky enough to be the branch manager of the first joint-use library facility in Mississippi. This means that this library was jointly used by both the community as a public library and school library by the students of the Charles B. Murphy Elementary School in Hancock County. During my experience here, I worked with a very talented and experienced librarian who was the school librarian while I was the public librarian. I saw how she conducted her classes and knew that I wanted to do what she did. She and I worked together to develop programs and instruction for the students. (See Art and Books: A School and Public Library Joint Venture by Andrea Kyzar (that's my former name) I was also in charge of ordering items for public use as well as school use. The school librarian also had a district budget for library purchases.

I was the branch manager for an entire school year and then in July of 2002 was offered my first school librarian position at St. Martin North Elementary in D'Iberville, MS.

It was at St. Martin North Elementary, where the previous librarian had worked for many years, that I began the hard work that is elementary school librarianship. The school still had the old card catalog though automation software had been purchased and most of the books had barcodes on them, the system was not up and running. The collection was small, about 3000 items, and I tediously put every book into the system, MARC records and everything. I also had a book fair fundraiser and began soliciting help from parents to do volunteer work in the library which helped immensely. Of course, the previous librarian had an assistant. I did not. Regardless, here is where I learned about budgets and collection development, community participation in the library program, and most importantly, teaching library skills and fostering the love of books in learning in my students.

I was beyond in love with my job though it was hard and challenging. My old friend from the Charles B. Murphy library called in May and told me about a position opening up at a school very near where I lived. St. Martin was about 45 minutes away and I knew that this school with the opening was a level 5 school and the facility was only 5 years old. I jumped at the chance to interview for this position. And luckily, I was offered it.

I have learned so much during my 6 years at East Hancock Elementary. I work with an amazing group of teachers and a supportive and encouraging administration.

Last year, I completed and passed National Board Certification.

Every day is different. Every day presents new challenges. Some days are easy and some days are hard and I expect it is this way with all jobs and careers. But with the job, the rewards are endless. I touch the lives of hundreds of children each year. Hopefully, I inspire and encourage them and give them wonderful memories of libraries and books. I get to teach them skills that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. I can be as creative and kooky as I want. I can sing, dance, act, paint, laugh, and read with children all day long! And I get two months off in the summer! That's not a job; that's a dream come true!