Librarian enriches students’ lives

Published 9:10 pm Friday, February 3, 2012

I don’t believe in superstition, but it was hard not to want to cross my fingers and arms along with the students at Creekside Elementary School on Thursday.

I was there covering a videoconference the school’s QUEST gifted program students had with former first lady Barbara Bush. But it seemed like I had brought the bad luck with me — although a dry run of the videoconference had worked perfectly earlier in the morning, the connection kept dropping when librarian Kim H. Richardson tried to connect when the conference was supposed to start.

Bush was set to read from “The Election Book: The People Pick a President” and then take questions from 20 schools in the United States and Canada.

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Creekside was supposed to be question No. 4.

Richardson, the firecracker librarian at Creekside who’s always got something up her sleeve, dialed the number again and again, and every time, the 29 students crossed their fingers and their arms. Had they not been in such tight quarters, they likely would have crossed their legs, as well.

Richardson and other teachers ran back and forth sending emails and making phone calls, and crossing a few fingers of their own. Finally, the connection worked when the presidential library from which the conference was being held called Creekside, rather than Creekside calling the library.

The students heard two questions, and then they were fit back into the schedule by some person with a good heart who controls such things. Veronica Evans, 10, softly asked her pre-chosen question — “Why is it important for students to know the process of electing a president?”

Bush responded to all the questions with sound advice and good humor, stressing the importance of doing well at school and asking the students at one school in Idaho if they were cold.

“No, it’s only about 30 degrees,” came the response — one that sent all in attendance at Creekside, and likely many of the other conferencing schools, into fits of laughter.

Throughout the whole process, I was amazed at the patience and good behavior of the students. They sat there from 10 a.m. to past noon with hardly a fidget, and only asked to stand and stretch their legs once while the connection fiasco was going on. It’s a rare elementary school-age child that can accomplish that.

Richardson told me she signed up for the opportunity when she saw it in a school videoconferencing newsletter. It’s hardly the only thing she has going on this year — from author visits to book fairs (which pay for many of the other activities), there’s always something happening at the Creekside library.

Richardson is to be commended for always going out of her way to ensure her students get every opportunity they can get. She’s a prize, and every public school system would be better off if they had one of her in every library, classroom and administrative office.