Spotlight – Q & A
Where did you grow up? I was born in New Jersey. My Dad got a job at Weyerhaeuser after graduating from Rutgers University. We moved to Longview when I was in the first grade.
What did your Dad do at Weyerhaeuser? Dad was a chemist.
Where did you go to school? I went to Mint Valley for first grade. After my first year, we moved out to the country and I switched to Robert Gray. I attended Mark Morris High School, class of 1981.
What was Mark Morris like? I loved high school and really enjoyed the teachers. I went to every sporting event, did score keeping for boy’s baseball and was on the track team.
Is your husband from around here? Yes, my husband Steve is an RA Long graduate, class of 1977.
Do you have kids? Yes, we have two boys, Justin and Nick, both Mark Morris graduates who still live in town.
How long have you worked for the school district? I’ve worked for the district for 21 years, but before that, I volunteered for about 4 years.
Who was the principal at Olympic 21 years ago? Karen Acker.
What are some of the benefits of working in the library? The nice thing about working in the library is you get to establish and build a relationship with every student in the school.
Is your job different now versus 21 years ago? The job of a para has changed immensely. Previously I spent most of my time in the library. I am not in the library as much anymore. Twenty years ago, we were called “teacher’s aide”. You would be in one room, or maybe two rooms, a day. We didn’t move around a lot. You went into each room and whatever the teacher told you to do is what you did.
What is the job like now? Now, we have supervisors who plan our detailed schedules. We have special planning meetings with the teachers we work with. We are much more highly skilled in the specific curriculum areas we work in. We are more a partner to the teachers now than just an “aide”.
What is your work schedule like now? This year our scheduling changed immensely. The majority of paras in our building are teaching the 95% reading intervention program. To reach as many students as possible, I travel to five different classrooms throughout the day. Teaching time in the classrooms is tight, so I update and organize my materials daily so I am ready to begin teaching as soon as I walk into a classroom.
What is your focus right now? Right now, I’m teaching reading intervention to small groups in Kindergarten thru 4th grade, plus my library duties.
What is the best part of your job? The relationships with the kids. Building those positive relationships with kids is so gratifying. One of the main reasons I like working in the library so much is because books are great conversation starters. I learn what books a child likes; if they enjoy a specific author, series or subject, and talking about those books creates a connection with them.
How has school changed over the last 20 years? I think many families are more transient today than in the past. That transient nature is really tough on the kids. I feel that’s one reason why building good relationships with kids is so important.
Does the transient nature of things make your job harder? Yes it does. There are so many stories that just break your heart. However, there’s a lot of good things going on too.
Did the internet change anything in the library? Maybe a little bit. The strengths and focus of the librarian affects things more. Our currently librarian is technologically savvy and outstanding.
What are the keys to being a good reader? Having a good teacher who has great relationships with students, so the students know they are cared about is a great starting point. Kids have to know you want them to succeed. When you have strong relationships with kids they work harder – they don’t want to disappoint you.
What is it like to work in the schools? It’s fun, it really is. Kids are fun! It’s awesome working in a small group and seeing the lightbulb go off. And I love working in the library, libraries are wonderful places.
What is your outlook on the future? The outlook for the future is positive. The staff at Olympic Elementary is amazing. We all want what is best for the kids and we work together to make sure all the kid’s needs are met.
Is it like family at Olympic? Oh yes, we are a family here. The staff here is very cohesive. Everyone has my back. Our principal is a good leader that I can talk to when I need things.
What do you do after work? I’m involved at my church where I’m a deacon. I love to travel. Spending time with my family is always a top priority. In my downtime I love to read and I enjoy working on puzzles.
Tell me about a trip you’ve taken? My brother and I did a road trip with our parents two summers ago to visit relatives in New Jersey. We were gone for a month and a half. I really loved staying in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia – the museums and history in that area is so interesting.
Did your family drive across county when you moved to Longview as a kid? Yes, when my family moved out here we drove. We visited Mt Rushmore along the way. On our recent trip with our parents two summers ago we visited Mt. Rushmore again. As an adult, Mt Rushmore wasn’t as big as I remember, but it was still impressive!
Do you have any family trips planned? We are getting ready for a big family trip this year during Spring Break – everybody is going to Hawaii. Hawaii is the only state my parents have not been to. Ten years ago, on our parent’s 50th anniversary, the family went to Sicily. Now on our parent’s 60th wedding anniversary we are going to Hawaii.