Just about everything – I am a worrier and haven’t had eight straight hours of sleep in almost two years.
What is your proudest career moment?
There are two, both of which occurred in the past couple of years. The first began two years ago (as did my inability to sleep well) when the parents of a child involved in a summer reading program, on which my Library Media Specialists colleagues and I were collaborating, challenged the book we had chosen on the grounds that it contained graphic language and sex. The Parents Action League (one of eight groups in Minnesota that the Southern Poverty Law Center has deemed a hate group) got behind the challenge and made several demands—that the book be removed from all schools in the district, that the author not be allowed to visit our schools, and that the Library Media Specialists who chose the book be disciplined. The story went national. One of my proudest moments was when I spoke in front of our school board, along with two of my colleagues, in order to defend the book (the award-winning Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell). I am passionate about the freedom to read and the freedom of information—and providing my students with books in which they see themselves reflected, even if their lives aren’t pretty. This freedom also allows these students to look into the lives of others and develop empathy. Having the opportunity to express this passion, and eventually winning this battle (the committee charged with deciding the fate of the book voted unanimously to keep the book on the shelves in our schools), changed me forever. The following fall I was awarded the Lars Steltzner Intellectual Freedom Award. In addition, that year I was named a finalist for Minnesota Teacher of the Year. One of the most challenging times in my life was also one of the most rewarding.
In what Olympic sport would you like to win a gold medal?
Gymnastics or figure skating. In fifth grade my teacher told me I was clumsy. It would be a great “so there” moment!
What’s the first book you remember reading?
As a child, my parents could not afford to buy me or my four siblings books, nor did we ever go to the library. I was not a reader. The summer between fourth and fifth grade, my family and I moved back to Minnesota from Michigan. As a going-away gift, my friends gave me a copy of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. It was the first book that I ever owned and the first book I remember reading cover to cover. That was the beginning of my journey to becoming a reader. I treasure that memory and that book (which I keep in a safe spot and look at frequently).
What TV show can’t you turn off?
So You Think You Can Dance – reality competition shows, especially those that involve something artistic, are my guilty pleasure (Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway – I LOVE them all!)