Second-graders visiting the library at Stevens Park Elementary School one morning this week sounded quite disappointed that they were allowed to check out a book only one more time before the school year ends. Their attitude is a testament to librarian Jennifer House, who has been named Dallas ISD’s 2015 Librarian of the Year.
The bright, well-organized space welcomes students to explore. Stuffed animals on many of the bookshelves are three-dimensional depictions of book characters, beckoning students to take closer looks at the words that bring them to life. House has also incorporated technology into lessons after becoming Google Educator Certified and graduating from the first Digital Fluency Camp from Region 10.
Some of the lessons House teaches are tied into annual observances as a way to celebrate diversity and literacy. May is Asian American History Month, so one morning this week, House read Carlos Digs to China to the students. In the book, Carlos enjoys a meal at a Chinese restaurant and decides to dig a hole to make his way to China so he can sample more of that country’s cuisine – providing a different look into another culture.
While still in high school, House visited a Montessori school in Dallas. “That day I decided I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. The decision to become an educator is one that has stuck.
She graduated from Baylor University in 1977 with an education certificate, and began teaching in January 1978 around the time Dallas ISD began offering full-day kindergarten. Her first job in the district was at John W. Carpenter Elementary School. In 1986, she began teaching kindergarten at Stevens Park, later became the school’s Reading Coach and then its librarian more than 10 years ago. Along the way, she learned Spanish to better communicate with students and to serve as an ESL teacher.
“It’s like home to me, and I didn’t feel a need to go somewhere else,” House said of Stevens Park. “I want to see them grow up. There are children in this school now – I taught their parents in kindergarten.” The ability to impact a family across generations has been a rewarding experience, and students returning to visit often seek her out.
Her favorite books include those written by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, particularly the series featuring fictional FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast.
Jackie Flores, assistant principal at Stevens Park, nominated House for the Librarian of the Year honor.
“She exemplifies outstanding service in the areas of her profession, professional growth and improvement of library services,” Flores wrote in the nomination letter. “Her passion and love for literacy is evident in everything that she does.”