(part of a monthly series)

How did you first hear or learn about Books for Keeps?
I was introduced when I was in the school district and heard about it in schools. The children that I worked with were able to receive bags of books.

How long have you been volunteering or serving with Books for Keeps?
I started volunteering when we went into the pandemic. Once it hit, there were calls by Books for Keeps to do deliveries, so that’s where I started. And when it came time for the distribution of the books for our school this year, I coordinated to make sure we were able to get all the books distributed to our students. I’ve also been serving on the board officially since January.

Why did you choose to serve on the Books for Keeps’ board?
For me, just seeing the impact first hand that the program has for the kids and the excitement around books. I grew up with my dad taking me to the library every week and I remember how excited I would get about those books. I didn’t have a lot of books that we owned because we went to the library so much, and the pure joy that I can see the children have about having their own books really spoke to me personally. And of course being in education, reading is so important. It’s actually my favorite thing to teach.

Have you had an inspiring/memorable interaction with a student since working with Books for Keeps? (This can be a direct interaction or something you observed.) If so, tell us about it.
When Books for Keeps comes into the school, it’s during a chaotic time of year – it’s the end of the school year, field day and trips are happening. But when BFK comes in, it’s a different feeling in the air. It’s quiet and kids are focused, highly engaged. It’s such a magical thing to see everyone reading and looking at their books. Kids are so excited and instead of clamoring to go out to recess, they all just want to sit down and read their books.

Have you worked with other non-profits in the past? Which ones?
I’ve served on the College of Education alumni board for UGA, but I’m relatively new to non-profit service. That’s actually where I met Leslie. She came to speak to the COE alumni board about the mission of Books for Keeps. I’ve also been in education for 15 years.

What strengths are you bringing to Books for Keeps?
15 years experience in education is definitely a strength. My understanding of how schools operate, the resources schools have and being able to help coordinate those resources, and seeing the needs that students have – not just for the kids themselves but also their families.

What is your favorite memory from working with Books for Keeps?
I would say my favorite memories are just seeing children’s excitement around reading. Even the kid who hates to read on BFK day is so excited because there are so many things to choose from that actually are in their interests.

Do you have a keen childhood memory related to a particular book? Or an experience with reading – to yourself or to a loved one?
I would go to the library with my dad, and have lots of memories about the library. I would pull every book by Dr. Seuss off the shelves. I would stack them all up, look at them, and talk to myself about which one I was going to pick that week. You could only check out two a week, but I would look at all of them. I loved the series so much, and it was such a great feeling.

What is your absolute favorite book?
It’s a toss-up in children’s literature. I really love the Shel Silverstein book Where the Sidewalk Ends. I would read it over and over again as a child. It may be my all-time favorite childhood book memory.

What would you read if you could only read one book for the rest of your life?
I enjoy reading for professional development even more than pleasure, so when I read for pleasure I like to read a lot of magazines. So I think I would read Family Handyman magazine for the rest of my life. I love the projects!