I cannot believe that June is almost over...although my body can! After surviving my oldest son's graduation from high school, presenting at the GLMA Summer Institute, and a whirlwind vacation in Washington D.C., I have a bad case of sore feet and bronchitis. Yep, I'm sick. The most comforting thought is that I don't have to jump out of bed and rush to school. I can just stay in my jammies, do a little reading, and sip warm tea all day. The other thing I'm doing is dreaming about my new horizons.
As you all know from my very dramatic "All good things" post, I am not going to be working in a school library this coming fall. Saying goodbye to something you love is very hard to do, but to be truthful, I am relieved. I feel as if I have had a tremendous burden lifted from my shoulders. Please don't misunderstand me, I still love the library and books and all that happens there, but I know that I am ready for a change. And change is coming!
Several of you have reached out to me by text, email, or Twitter to ask "what's next for the Happy Librarian?" And for months I've had to answer "I have no earthly idea!". But that is beginning to change. I have accepted a part time position with a college and although I cannot go into details (my own decision because I'm still being processed by Human Resources and I don't want to jinx it), I am really excited about the work I will be doing. I hope to share more of that with you in the near future.
I do want to share another aspect of my work that will be expanding. For the last 8 years or so, I have worked to coach and train school librarians and teachers on the use of technology and STEM to support curriculum. It dawned on me a while back that I should really try to expand my reach in this area. Many of my trainings have been through our local RESA, but there are countless RESAs in our state and maybe I could be of some use. I also thought about the staff trainings I've done in my own schools and have wondered if any other schools out there might be looking for someone to teach their staff. Who knows? I may be completely off base, but I've got to give it a shot. So, the other day, I whipped up a promotional flyer using my favorite tech tool (wink, wink) and sent it out via email to several local schools that do not have full-time librarians or instructional technology staff. I have no earthly idea if anyone will want to hire me for a day to do some coaching, but it is worth it to try. Here is my flyer if you are curious...
And don't worry too much about my disappearing from the library scene. I've volunteered to host one of the #GaLibChat sessions in the coming year on Twitter. I've agreed to help draft a position statement on the dangers of leveling school libraries for the GLMA. And of course I'll still be hanging at #coffeeEDU and the #nwgams consortium with my local library peeps.
As for keeping up with me...the best place to connect online is Twitter. I'm still there. @LeighaBurnham
Or feel free to check out my updated website at www.leighaburnham.com to see what happens with my new work.
See ya around!
Someone once said "All good things must come to an end" and in the case of my work here on this blog...it is true. This will be one of the final posts here at The Happy Library blog. I know, you might be in shock. So, take a breath. Re-read the first sentence. And then sit down and let me share my heart with you.
I have been so blessed in my professional life. My career started almost immediately after college when I landed a wonderful job in a small high school that was only 15 minutes away from my alma mater. I had a fantastic principal who really taught me a lot about leadership and how to be a true professional. I also had an amazing group of mentors in my English department...several became colleagues in other schools down the road and others just became good friends.
I eventually stepped away from that job to stay at home with my three beautiful boys who are now practically men. The five years I spent at home were such a joy. I wouldn't take anything for them.
When I decided to return to work (my oldest was starting school), I looked high and low for a school library job. I had earned my master's degree while pregnant with my middle son and really wanted to make the transition upon returning to work. But, as God willed it, I accepted a teaching job at Armuchee High School. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. For many reasons. The first being that we relocated to that area of the county and our boys have had their entire education in the wonderful schools here. The second being that I count my time at Armuchee High School as some of the best of my professional life. I made lifelong friends there...faculty and students alike. It was not an easy decision to leave when a library job in another county opened up and I was offered the job.
It was the middle of the school year (my 7th year at AHS) and it meant giving up walking to school (literally) for a 23-minute commute. But...I did it. That too was an amazing decision. I loved my years as the librarian at Gordon Central High School. I treasure that time. It was a time of learning and innovation and it laid the foundation for all of the advocacy work I now do for librarians in our little corner of Georgia. I made wonderful friends...correction, FAMILY, there. I love them all so much. But another opportunity presented itself and I took a chance on a big job in a big district as an Instructional Technology Specialist.
The leap from the library into instructional technology was fast and furious. I felt strongly that it would help me build a better career, but at the time I wasn't sure how. I knew it was an opportunity. And that opportunity led me to relationships with two colleagues that continue to support and nurture me in so many ways! (You two ladies know exactly who you are!)
The job of training teachers to more effectively use technology was awesome. I loved my work. I did not love the 45-minute commute that came with it. After just one year I gave in. I knew I had to find something closer to home. I also still had the library "itch". I wondered if I had made a mistake leaving the library. I aggressively sought to find a library job closer to home. And that brought me to where I am today....The Happy Library.
If you look back at my first posts here on the blog, you will see that my heart was full of joy and my eyes full of optimism. I was nervous about entering the elementary world, but I also felt confident that I could do it. And not just do it, but do it well. I set about all sorts of plans. Plans for new, bright decor. Plans for innovative STEM-maker activities. Plans for the latest and greatest children's books.
Much of what I envisioned became reality. You have seen the photos and read the stories here. And some of what I dreamed about didn't happen...for a multitude of reasons. There were great challenges. But there were also great joys. The children have blessed me in so many ways. They make me laugh, they make me think about things in a new way, they give me hugs, and they push my buttons a little too. But, in reflecting on my work this year I have come to a few personal revelations that have guided me to today's post:
I want to be back on a schedule that supports my own children. My oldest son is graduating high school and entering the United States Navy. With this transition comes big heart pangs for me. It makes me long for home. For the last 8 years or so, I have left my house before the boys are awake and often return to the hustle and bustle of after school commitments and homework. The fact that holiday breaks don't always line up across district school calendars often leaves us disconnected during the spring and fall breaks that other families use to vacation together. FInding a job back in my home county will allow me more time with my boys. The time is fleeting. In just five short years, they will all "fly the coop" and I don't want to be saying "I wish" about my work schedule.
I think it's time to close the chapter on my library work. This was the hardest revelation for me. When I left the classroom to become a librarian, I wasn't burned out on teaching. I still loved it. Desperately. When I left the library to become an instructional tech specialist, I wasn't burned out on library work. I still loved it. Desperately. BUT....this is the kicker right here...this year has been so hard. I don't want to go into all of the reasons, but it just has been hard. So hard that it has made me fall "out of love" somewhat with the work of the school librarian. This grieves my heart. After many tearful conversations with family and friends, and some serious self-reflection, I've decided that I need a change. A real change. So, I'm seeking work that will help me fulfill this desire.
The realization that I won't be accepting any jobs as a school librarian next school year hit me hard a couple of weeks ago. I have had a few good cries over this. I have grieved over it. But I also have had such peace. Peace that passes all human understanding. And that is how I know that it is right.
So, although this may not be the very last post here on The Happy Library, I wanted you all to know that it has meant the world to me that you have supported me in my work as an elementary librarian. And I appreciate every kind word and comment about this blog. I appreciate that you even took time to look at it! The website will remain active for one year so that you can go back and get the things you need or possibly share with a friend. But, all good things must come to an end and this space will surely have its end.
Who to follow: