What does it really mean for a librarian to partner with a local school?
From my experience, it can mean a world of difference to the quality of service we can provide to students in our community and is an excellent learning experience for everyone involved. What school partnerships looks like can be different for every librarian-teacher connection, but the universal truth is that it means we can do more and be better together. Teachers offer their expertise, wisdom and feedback on programs and this enables the Library to work in tandem with classes or clubs in the schools. The library can offer teachers and students many resources. From testing support to programs that complement what students are learning, we are working with schools to foster learning opportunities inside and outside of the classroom.
Everyone living in Kitsap is contributing to these partnerships in a big way just by supporting our library services. The return on investment for our community is a rich learning environment that will produce skilled workers who can boost the future of our economy.
Working with our schools means that we are able to learn from each other and brainstorm. By pooling our resources together, we go beyond the walls of the Library or the classroom. Together, library and school leaders get out in the community. Joining forces enables us to help out at events like the Summer Institute, where teachers from across the West Sound gather to train and learn for the year ahead. We can meet parents where they are at by fostering early learning for infants and preschoolers by creating take-home Early Lit kits which include 100 books every kid should read before starting school. We establish strong bonds with elementary school students through our Third Graders To the Library field trips where students tour the Library and receive their very own library card. We continue to support students through in-school learning and out of school academic-focused programming, volunteer opportunities and even paid internships for older teens.
In addition to helping to support the learning that schools provide, we offer programs for all ages that complement local curriculums and have implimented our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programming focus across all age groups. We work diligently to not duplicate programs already offered by teachers or local afterschool organizations, but to truly work as equal partners to create a full suite of opportunities for students to keep learning in their own community.
Above: Librarians and teachers are a united front through professional development and educational opportunities in the community.
Our community of learning in Kitsap supports college and career goals through partnerships. Working with local school’s career counselors and with organizations like Work Source, the library has grown exponentially as a hub for career-oriented learning and professional growth. It is because of the Kitsap Regional Library that I was able to achieve my own college and career goals. I grew up in Bremerton and graduated from Olympic High School ten years ago. At that time, the economic climate was uncertain and my dream to attain a master’s degree and become a librarian seemed lofty. The library, both in the school and the public library, were vital to my educational goals. Even if my dream would take me many years to achieve, there were dozens of teachers and librarians who worked in the Bremerton area who all made a huge positive impact on my life. The afterschool creative writing club, for example, that met afterschool was supported by an English teacher and a librarian.
By joining that club, I discovered a passion for reading that translated into better grades in my English classes. I took Japanese from a very inspiring sensei, learned everything I could about web design from a fantastic technology teacher and applied my knowledge to practice by volunteering. I studied at Olympic College, and then the University of Washington in Seattle. I felt an urgent call to service to return to Kitsap as a skilled worker after achieving my dream and you can bet that working here at Kitsap Regional Library is a dream come true! I have the opportunity to pay it forward by fostering the community of learning in my hometown. I am only able to do this work with the help of partnerships with other educators and service providers.
In order to be the best possible librarian I can be for our community, I lean on teachers, school librarians, paraeducators, school district administrators, volunteers at our local schools and I lean on the service providers, and many local organizations. These connections help me to facilitate programs for teens that are based on a united front. We are able to connect formal learning in school to the informal learning we can provide at the Library. By having these incredible friendships with all of the educators who are leading the charge to work with our community’s students and by being a mentor to young people in our community, I believe that we can continue to foster a community that values learning and education. Whether you are a kid or a kid-at-heart, the Library will always be there to help you never stop learning.