Vista gives big sendoff to longtime school librarian

One attribute great school librarians share is the desire to instill love of books in their students.

Such was the theme at a recent Vista Del Valle Elementary School assembly during which the teachers and students said goodbye to longtime librarian Cindy Dewey. As a swan song to the school she served for eight years, Ms. Dewey read “Miss Brooks Loves Books, And I Don’t,” a tale of a first grader named Missy who does not like to read and a librarian who won’t give up trying to find the perfect book that will convert her into a reader.

The crowd of children from kindergarten to sixth grade shrieked when Missy announced that she wanted to read a book about warts and subsequently fell in love with the book “Shrek!”

Fittingly, Ms. Dewey later said the greatest pleasure in being a school librarian comes when a student who is not a reader chooses a difficult book and loves it.

A librarian engenders the love of books in students and in a sense must market books to students and cajole them to read. “To be a successful, student kids need to be avid readers,” she said. “They must choose to read, not just get assigned to read.”

Ms. Dewey succeeded in that task while at Vista, at least according to the school’s principal Dave Stewart. “Every time she reads (to students), even a familiar story is a whole new story,” he said during the assembly. “Ms Dewey is a clear example of someone who truly loves books.”

Later Mr. Stewart related that Ms. Dewey is very special and that the school nominated her regularly to be Claremont Unified School District classified employee of the year.

Her retirement came about after her husband accepted a job as president of Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Albany New York. As a triathlete, the change in climate is not without sacrifice for Ms. Dewey, who noted that the temperature in Albany on Friday was predicted to be in the 30s.

Before the assembly was over, the staff at Vista presented Ms. Dewey with a bouquet of flowers and the second grade students sang her a special song. However the highlight may have been when Mr. Stewart and some of the teachers presented the classic children’s fable “Three Billy Goats Gruff” in a dramatic reading.

Though Vista is sad to see Ms. Dewey leave, Mr. Stewart was excited to announce her replacement by retired teacher Beth Djonne. During a long career, Ms. Djonne has taught every grade from fourth through twelfth, most recently in Rialto where she retired two years ago. She has kept busy working as an adjunct professor in the education department’s teacher prep program at Cal Poly Pomona. However, she missed being with children and being part of a teaching community, so the librarian job will be ideal for her.

Not surprisingly, Ms. Djonne says that a love of literature and a love of books motivated her to apply for the opening at Vista. She believes that creating literate citizens is the main job of a school librarian. “Teachers know the tricks and tips to get kids excited about books,” she said. “If you give kids a reason to read or do the research then they will be excited about books.”

Ms Djonne’s appointment must be approved by the CUSD Board of Education, which is expected in February.

—Steven Felschundneff


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