Librarian Lara Ivey is an inspiring, energetic force. Just four years into her library career, she won the James Regional Librarian of the Year Award for 2018 from the Virginia Association of School Librarians (VAASL) and serves as a leader on projects for both VAASL and the national organization, the American Association of School Librarians. We are excited to share a bit of her story in this week's BubbleUp Take10.
Job: Starting 5th year as an Elementary Librarian
Where: Bettie Weaver Elementary School, Midlothaian, VA
Number of Years in Education: This will be year 25--prior to becoming a librarian, Lara spent 20 years teaching various grades at the elementary level
1. Why Education?
Life is education so what better place to be! There are opportunities for learning everywhere you look--we can learn about the world, about people, about ourselves and books are the vehicle through which we can do that.
What is your education mantra?
BE NICE...to yourself and to others! Can you imagine if everyone took that approach? Even when people disagree, if we are just nice then we move forward with life and make progress towards goals. Can you imagine if we could all just BE NICE? The UN Global Goals for 2030 would definitely be within reach! #BeNice!
What is your daily school routine?
My daily routine is filled with sharing a love for books, teaching digital citizenship in fun and exciting ways, researching for PBLs using databases, Google Hangouts with experts and Flipgrids with authors who are getting ready to come for a visit! Letting students explore in our "Wonder Area" allows them to work on logic-type games, cooperative experiences, and discovering how things fit together. We are on a fixed schedule so classes are coming and going all day long! But we also have "open check out" so the doors are always swinging open and we love it that way. There is nothing better than to hear one student share about a book, encouraging that friend to check it out. This happens ALL OF THE TIME as our library motto is #ReadItShareIt!
What is your favorite lesson of all time?
This is a hard one. But if I trace many of my favorite lessons it goes back to the first time I participated in Pernille Ripp's Global Read Aloud (GRA) in 2012 where my second grade class connected with Amanda Haskins's class to read The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. I'm calling this a "lesson" because it's where I learned the value of making connections and seeing that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. Amanda and I have never met in person, but she is a dear friend of mine. This one connection led to using Google Hangouts, Mystery Hangouts, and even more books read together with our classes having buddies for reading as well as writing. Amanda and I did an additional GRA together and then I connected her with one of my teachers when I left the classroom and became a librarian. I've now shared the GRA with teachers in my new school and helped them to make connections across the world--even in Thailand! Making connections is key to what we do as librarians.
If you could change one thing about schools what would it be and why?
If I could change one thing about schools it would be that all schools would have supportive administration who see the value of the school's librarian and all that can be done through this role. Without a supportive administration, we wouldn't be able to do what we do to the level at which we do it. I'm spoiled and I genuinely appreciate my principal, but feel guilty at times for other librarians who don't have that same support and encouragement. Time to advocate and educate!
What three words would you use to describe your day as an educator (or our profession)?
EXCITEMENT, ENGAGEMENT, and GLOBAL CONNECTIONS Yes, that's four words, but three ideas. I want learning to be fun and for there to be excitement in our learning. I want students to be engaged with the work they do. And I can't imagine not including being globally connected through our work with PBLs, service learning, and the UN Global Goals or the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
What’s one education hack you can offer to our readers?
Laugh, and laugh a lot! But also, get connected and stretch your PLN. If you aren't on Twitter, join and follow people who teach what you teach. Follow people who believe in what you believe in. And then learn about hashtags and twitter chats that will inspire you beyond your wildest dreams. It's often that little kick that you need to get yourself in gear. And good grief...the connections you can make on there are unreal. The next thing you know you'll be talking with authors and working on some project to change the world.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to new educators?
Don't be afraid to try new things. Don't let fear stand in your way. Two examples of recent fear for me were my fear of trying Flipgrid and my fear for using Let's Stick Together mosaic posters. While it may sound silly, I missed out on a year of Flipgrid because I was afraid that I didn't know how things would turn out. I didn't know if the way I organized the process would be organized enough. And the same was true with the mosaic poster. What I have come to realize is...it's completely okay that I don't know how it's going to work. My advice is to think it through, come up with a plan, and go for it! I can't imagine letting fear win with my teaching.
What do you hope students and colleagues will say about you one day at your retirement party?
Mrs. Ivey helped me see who I could be and she believed in me. She was FUN!
What are you reading, watching, or listening to these days?
Well, thanks to the connections that I've made with our local independent bookshop (bbgb in Carytown), I am afforded the opportunity to read many ARCs (advanced reader copies) for books that haven't quite hit the market. And fortunately for my students, I can also share these books with them! My two most recent reads that I am beside myself over are Where Watermelons Grow (Cindy Baldwin @beingcindy) and The Benefits of Being an Octopus (Ann Braden @annbradenbooks). Where Watermelons Grow touches on mental illness in a gentle way and The Benefits of Being an Octopus addresses housing insecurity for our students as well as gun violence and teaches about the power of being able to debate on tough topics.
And for listening, if you haven't taken time to listen to Corrina Allen's (@corrinaallen) Books Between podcast you are missing out. The topics and guests that she covers with middle grade books will inspire and get you ready to take on the world, often encouraging some sort of change within yourself. Check out her interview with Cindy Baldwin!
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Follow Lara on Twitter @laraivey to connect with her and learn from her!
And we would love to share YOU through BubbleUp Take10! Reach out if you are interested -- or recommend a colleague who has some great ideas to to share!
-Corey and Gretchen
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