The Reading Program is a unique department in the library because we have only 2.5 Literacy Specialists (LS) on staff, and we provide services at 9 libraries including the City of Mountain View Public Library. Currently, one LS is on maternity leave, and one LS is jaunting around Europe. This week I am preparing this blog solo without any input from my colleagues. I decided that a staff bio might be fun. Since I am the only LS officially at work this week, you get to learn a little more about me. I am Brenda, the LS for Campbell, Cupertino, Los Altos, Milpitas and Saratoga, and I work one day each week in Gilroy too!
What is your professional background?
I started tutoring ESL students while I was in college in South Dakota, and it led to a permanent teaching position for my university’s Dakota English Language Institute. After graduating with a degree in English for Information Systems, my husband and I moved to CA to pursue our careers. I worked for The Harker School for a few years and taught briefly at a tech school in San Jose; I have been working for SCCLD’s Reading Program since July 2001.
Why do you like being a LS?
I love being a LS for many reasons. I enjoy meeting new immigrants from other countries, sharing the library’s massive collection with adult new readers, finding appropriate instructional materials for learning, and preparing interesting lessons for the ESL class on Fridays in Milpitas.
What’s your specialty?
Aside from ESL, I also enjoy engaging students in the goal-setting process. A few years ago, I worked on a grant to increase the intensity for instruction for adult new readers, and I enjoyed writing curriculum to help with setting goals, managing time, and building study skills. This work was published as a promising practice in the field of literacy, so it felt extra cool to share its outcomes with other programs throughout the nation and mentor them during the implementation process.
Best/worst day on the job?
We are very fortunate to experience way more good days than bad ones. Some of my favorite moments are when students report first time experiences—like talking to their doctors in English, helping their kids with homework, getting their citizenship, understanding American humor, or appreciating a new book. Sadly, we lost a fabulous student last year; he passed away after having a stroke, but I was proud to support him and his tutor for a few years after he experienced his first stroke. I also learned a lot about the brain and its capacity for learning following trauma, so it was an opportunity to grow professionally too.
What are your personal likes and dislikes?
I like my husband, Brad, and doggy, Buster, a 5-year-old Boston Terrier (see monitor in above photo!). I also like riding my pink beach cruiser bicycle, learning new recipes, and traveling to the Midwest to see my extended family. Did I mention that I love my doggy? I dislike spicy foods, highway 101, and broken technology.
Favorite library resources/materials?
My favorite book for newly-arrived ESL students is…