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Furman Alumni Librarians Part 9: Ginger Williams ’85

Sketch of Ginger WilliamsGinger Williams ’85

This summer we are highlighting Furman University alumni who work as library and information professionals. This is part 9 in this series; to view previous blog posts click here.

Ginger Williams is our ninth alumni to be featured, and she has had a very extensive career. She holds three advanced degrees – two in librarianship and a law degree! She has worked in school libraries, transitioned a library into the digital age, been a tenured faculty member, and now oversees a large department in the library at Texas State University.

Tell us a little bit about how you chose to work as a library and information professional?

“I was thinking about a Ph.D. in history and college teaching, but Dr. Spear very gently pointed out that both doctoral programs and the history faculty job market are best suited to passionate historians. I like history, but I’m not passionate about it. I had taken some accounting classes at Furman, and learned that I enjoy dealing with financial information although I didn’t want to do that full time. I’m passionate about learning new things, organizing information, helping people find information, evaluating programs, and stretching budgets. Librarianship seemed to fit.”

What has been your professional path to your current position?

“I pursued an M.Ln. and J.D. simultaneously, planning to become an academic law librarian. The law librarians graciously provided me with a variety of experience during my three years as a graduate assistant in the law library, but I decided against spending my career in the high pressure law school environment. I finished the coursework for school library certification while working as a graduate assistant in reference at USC-Aiken. I enjoyed both working with undergraduates and the opportunity to do a little of everything during my practicum in a high school library, so I applied for both college reference and high school library jobs. My first offer was a high school library job near home, just after my father became seriously ill, so I moved home for a year or two. The World Wide Web was created. I converted the card catalog to computer, successfully wrote grants for library and classroom technology, introduced Microsoft Office and the Internet to teachers and students, and was active in the SC Association of School Librarians. I eventually transferred to school district administration, where both grant writing skills and broad knowledge of curriculum gained as a school librarian were useful. After fourteen years in K-12 education, I quit work for a year to earn a specialist’s degree, with the goal of becoming a technical services librarian. I did an internship in technical services at Winthrop University, then accepted a position as assistant professor and assistant collections officer at Mississippi State University. I became active in the Association for Collections and Technical Services, published a couple of peer-reviewed journal articles, helped with transition from print to e-journals, moved to Wichita State University in Kansas as Acquisitions Librarian, published a few more articles, instituted e-book purchasing, and was promoted to associate professor with tenure. I gave up faculty status and tenure to come to Texas State University, where I manage a fourteen person department and eight million dollar budget to supply the information needs of 38,000 students. It’s challenging, rewarding, and (usually) enjoyable.”

What is the most interesting library in which you’ve worked?

“All of them! The school library had quirky teens and the introduction of the World Wide Web. The academic libraries had quirky profs who introduced me to topics I’d never considered. Where but a library would you learn – all in the same morning – that cows have problems with diarrhea, John Grisham’s novels have been translated into dozens of languages you’ve never heard of, and wax cylinder jukeboxes and player pianos are still in demand?”

What is something you have been surprised by during your career?

“I’ve been surprised that principles and theories I learned in law and library school are still valid today, even though practice changes constantly. My law school education has been valuable everywhere I worked, as have the writing skills that Dr. McArthur fostered in English 101.”

Furman Alumni Librarians Part 8: Rachel Inabinet ’04

Rachel Inabinet ’04

Thank you for joining us for part 8 in our ongoing series of blog posts featuring Furman University alumni who work as library and information science professionals. To read previous installments in this series click here.

Today we are featuring Rachel Inabinet who graduated from Furman in 2004 with a bachelor of arts degree in political science. After graduating from Furman, she attended Loyola University in Chicago where she earned a master’s in political science. In 2018 Inabinet graduated from the University of South Carolina with her master’s in library and information science with a concentration in library management and administration. Currently, she serves as the adult outreach and events coordinator for the Greenville County Library System!

Tell us a little bit about how you chose to work as a library and information professional?

“I had not thought of it as a career for myself until my older brother started working for the public library. I eventually realized that I wanted to be involved in work that made me feel like I was actively helping people. He inspired me to work in a public library – a place open to absolutely everyone where I can teach literacy skills and provide a safe space for all. I love people, and I have never once been bored in this profession!”

What has been your professional path to your current position?

“Once I pivoted from political science to librarianship, I started work as a library assistant at the Greenville County Library System. I moved from that to a team leader, and then to Staff Development, training library staff. I’ve only been in my current position for about two months, but this is the dream job! Of course, all of this stemmed from my time at the James B. Duke Library.”

What is the most interesting library in which you’ve worked?

“I’ve only worked at two libraries, but the public library is certainly the most eventful one! Whether it’s running huge programs for patrons or handling emergencies, we stay constantly busy.”

What is something you have been surprised by during your career?

“I was surprised by how much public librarianship can feel like social work. I wish more libraries were equipped with true social workers on staff, but we make do with teaching ourselves the best we can. We spend a lot of time listening to needs and recommending outside services to help as many patrons as possible. I think I was also surprised by how much I love it and how deeply I hold the values of librarianship. Libraries are for everyone!”

Is there a particularly fond memory from your time at Furman that you would be willing to share?

“I had the BEST time working with Julie Carter throughout my time at Furman (2000-2004). A group of us called ourselves L6 (the Library Six) and we would often ask ourselves, “What would James B. Duke Do?” This ultimately led to writing WWJBDD all over scraps of paper at the circulation desk and thinking of ways he was haunting the stacks.”

Furman Alumni Librarians Part 7: Mary Beth Duty ’82

Photo of Mary Beth DutyMary Beth Duty ’82

Continuing our weekly blog series featuring Furman University alumni who work as library and information science professionals, this Wednesday we’re highlighting Mary Beth Duty from the class of 1982. You can check out previous posts in this series here!

Duty holds a bachelor’s degree in political science. In 2007 she earned her MLIS degree from Georgia State University. Currently, she works at Stripling Elementary School in Norcross, GA as a media specialist.

Tell us a little bit about how you chose to work as a library and information professional?

“My volunteer work in elementary school Media Centers led me to pursue my graduate degree.”

What has been your professional path to your current position?

“While raising my children, I developed a deep love for children’s literature. This interest, combined with a fascination with teaching the research process and widening children’s worlds as they evaluate information, directed me towards the field of library media technology.”

What is the most interesting library in which you’ve worked?

“Each day in the Title I school where I work is full of challenges, laughter, and rewarding moments. The power of good literature to change children’s lives is evident as I work with my students, reading to them and helping them navigate their way through databases. Students’ worlds are widened and the playing field is leveled as they soak up knowledge and information, enabling them to converse, study, and succeed along with children from all economic walks. Plus, who can be bored in a job in which kindergarteners believe in magic and fifth graders question nearly everything?”

What is something you have been surprised by during your career?

“I have been surprised at how attached I grow to so many of my students. I think my husband is sometimes afraid that I will want to adopt half of them! Working with children is mostly pure delight, and watching them fall in love with literature makes the rough patches worth it.”

Is there a particularly fond memory from your time at Furman that you would be willing to share?

“I grew up military, which meant I didn’t stay in one place long enough to feel at home in a school. Furman changed that for me! When I arrived as a freshman, it felt a bit like coming home. It helped that I had dear cousins attending as well, my mother had graduated in 1949, and, best of all, I met my husband there.”

Furman Alumni Librarians Part 6: Chase Ollis ’11

Chase Ollis ’11

Welcome to week 6 of our summer blog series in which we highlight some of the amazing Furman University alumni who have chosen careers within the library and information science professions. You can view previous blog posts in this series here.

This week we are featuring Chase Ollis who graduated from Furman in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in English and communication studies. In 2017 he graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a master’s in library and information science. Ollis currently serves as a program officer for professional development with the American Library Association.

Tell us a little bit about how you chose to work as a library and information professional?

“It actually started with the atomic bomb and a cartoon about a sponge living in a pineapple under the sea.  I had been a circulation student assistant at Furman since freshman year, but had never really seen myself as a librarian beyond that. But during my senior year at Furman, I was conducting research for my thesis paper in Dr. Tevis’s “Atomic Frontier” class. My topic focused on the use of atomic imagery in children’s programming during and after the Cold War (e.g. Disney’s “Our Friend the Atom” versus Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants”) and what effect that use has had on children’s perspectives concerning the bomb. I won’t entertain you with the details, but essentially, programs like “Our Friend the Atom” educated children on the power of the atom, while newer programs like “SpongeBob” purposefully make them laugh at the kitschy sight of a mushroom cloud. During the project, I checked out a total of 42 books from the library and through ILL, and virtually swam through EBSCOhost prowling for references, all to try and understand why I would laugh when I saw the underwater town of Bikini Bottom be obliterated by real government footage of a nuclear test explosion. My project resulted in one of my finest pieces of work to this day, and while I had done plenty of research projects prior to this, it truly solidified in me an enjoyment for discovery.”

What has been your professional path to your current position?

“I started at ALA/ACRL as a Program Coordinator in September 2013, and began library school soon after in summer of 2014, where I attended part-time for three years. Prior to joining ALA, I was a circulation supervisor at Northwestern University’s law library for two years, which was my first job after moving to Chicago.  In addition to my work at ALA, I have also been serving for two years as a volunteer librarian and exhibit curator at the Gerber/Hart Library and Archives in Chicago, the largest library and archives in the Midwest specifically serving the LGBTQ community. Here, in addition to providing reference services, I have helped curate and design exhibits covering the history of drag in Chicago, telling the story of the Gay Liberation movement, and examining queer activism at the margins of identity in the 1990s.”

What is the most interesting library in which you’ve worked?

“Absolutely the Gerber/Hart. It’s a different kind of atmosphere than any other library I’ve really ever been in (fewer patrons, more research, and certainly the most interesting collection I’ve ever dealt with closely). Our physical space is on the second floor of an LGBTQ health clinic on the far north side of the city, and our collection is made up entirely of donations. Look in our archives and you’ll find so many fun treasures – photos of the infamous mid-century drag queen Tillie “The Dirty Old Lady of Chicago,” full outfits and accessories from other drag stars, vinyl records from LGBTQ artists, gay-themed board games, original copies of rare underground zines and newspapers, and so much more.”

What is something you have been surprised by during your career?

“How much I enjoy getting to do what I do, and how work doesn’t feel like work much of the time. I don’t normally take work home with me, but I enjoy talking to anyone willing to lend an ear about libraries and their place in society, and am constantly thinking how we can make a larger impact by demonstrating the value of libraries and helping people understand why they’re more important today than ever before.  Also, I never imagined I’d get to dance with the Librarian of Congress backstage at a conference then be invited to her office on the library’s roof, or get to ride on a giant metal snail mobile with flames shooting out of its head, or hold an original Shakespeare folio, but it’s all happened because of where I’ve been fortunate enough to land in my career!”

Is there a particularly fond memory from your time at Furman that you would be willing to share?

“Many of my favorite moments at Furman happened behind the JBD circulation desk, where I made some of my best friends for life and had the best bosses (Robyn and Jimmy!). It would be so hard to pick a favorite, but I always loved being able to talk to them about whatever was happening in my life and where life was taking me as a student. I learned so much from them and don’t think I’d be where I am today without them.  I did love being able to ride my scooter around the library telling people we were closing, though.”

Furman Alumni Librarians Part 5: Brian Green ’98

Photo of Brian GreeneBrian Greene ’98

This is part 5 in our weekly summer blog series in which we will be highlighting some of the amazing Furman University alumni who have pursued careers in library and information science professions. Click here to view previous posts in this series.

Today’s featured alumni librarian is Brian Greene who graduated from Furman in 1998 with a bachelor of arts in religion. He then went on to earn a master’s of theological studies in the Hebrew bible from Harvard University. Four years after that Greene completed a second master’s degree this time in library and information science. These two degrees serve him well in his current roles as the subject librarian for religion and philosophy and the head of information Delivery and Access Services.

What has been your professional path to your current position?

“I started out in libraries as a work-study student during graduate school. I loved surrounding myself with the rich collections at the Harvard Divinity School Library. It was also a great way to network with the faculty & with other students.  After graduation, I decided to stay in Boston and work in the Harvard University Library system for a couple of years before applying to PhD programs in Hebrew Bible, and it was then and there that I first began to see libraries as a career path.”

Tell us a little bit about how you chose to work as a library and information professional?

“Back in the early 2000’s, Harvard University offered its Library employees a great deal – full tuition coverage at Simmons University’s School of Library and Information Science. Never one to pass up an opportunity for a free education, you could say they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse!”

What is the most interesting library in which you’ve worked?

“That depends on what you mean by interesting!  At Northeastern University, where I’ve worked for the past 15 years, there’s never a dull moment, since I work in public services. I’ve seen the university transform itself from a regional campus into a truly international, global research community. We have the 3rd highest international student population in the country (after NYU and USC) and I am really privileged to get to know so many of these students.”

What is something you have been surprised by during your career?

“I’m surprised I’ve spent my entire work life in New England, having grown up in the South. I’ve even lost my southern accent! I don’t miss the politics, but I do miss the food.”

Is there a particularly fond memory from your time at Furman that you would be willing to share?

“Definitely the mentoring relationships with the Furman Faculty, especially those in the Religion Department.”

Find It @ Furman Replaces Library Catalog

The Libraries have a new way to search print and electronic materials: Find It @ Furman. This new library management system will replace the Library Catalog, a system which is over 15 years old and has reached end-of-life. Find It @ Furman will allow for searching print and electronic resources, a more intuitive user experience, and streamlined methods for ordering, describing, and checking out library materials.

The system, known as Alma/Primo VE by vendor Ex Libris, will be shared among 55 other college/university libraries in the statewide consortium PASCAL (Partnership Among South Carolina Academic Libraries). Sharing the system will allow for easier borrowing through the PASCAL Delivers service, improved collaboration, and a similar searching experience among the almost all the college/university libraries in South Carolina.

Have questions or comments about Find It @Furman, please let us know: LibrarySystems@furman.edu.

Furman Alumni Librarians Part 4: Susan McCarrell Lyon ’97

Photo of Susan McCarrell LyonSusan McCarrell Lyon ’97

This is part 4 in our weekly summer blog series in which we will be highlighting some of the amazing Furman University alumni who have pursued careers in library and information science professions. Click here to view previous posts in this series.

Today we are featuring Susan McCarrell Lyon. Lyon graduated from Furman in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in music. She went on to earn a master’s in music from the University of Georgia, a performance diploma from Longy Conservatory, and finally, a master’s in library and information science from the University of South Carolina. Lyon currently serves as the learning engagement manager for the Richland Library in Columbia, SC!

Tell us a little bit about how you chose to work as a library and information professional?

“My first job after Furman (with benefits) was as a checkout clerk in the Richland County Public Library.  That library experience helped me get a job while a broke conservatory student in Boston.  Boston Public Library (BPL) was the only employer who called me back after handing out resumes to every retailer on my path to and from school (too bad, Body Shop!). I worked at BPL as a music research assistant while studying flute performance at Longy. At BPL, I met an amazing librarian who understood my life as a performing musician (always tired, always broke, always busy with rehearsal). She was a horn player from Ottowa, Canada who loved music, learning, and research as much as I did.  She encouraged me to consider a career in libraries and pursue performing as my side passion.  I listened to her; I’m so glad I did!”

What has been your professional path to your current position?

“During my MLIS studies, I worked at the USC Music Library and thought I’d be a music research librarian.  I also volunteered at my public library; I fell in love with the possibilities for community and civic engagement that are possible through the public library.  I was hired as a librarian in the film and sound (music/media/film) department at Richland Library in December of 2006.  During the ebook and digital media boom of 2010, there was great opportunity for helping our staff and community learn, grow, and adapt to these new technologies.  I found myself leading our Learning Engagement team in the fall of 2011.  In my current role, I anticipate, listen, and respond to the learning needs of our community and staff.”

What is the most interesting library in which you’ve worked?

“My current library!  At Richland Library I work with an array of creative and passionate professionals including sculptors, painters, marketing gurus, fundraising professionals, children services experts, teen and graphic novel gurus, videographers, media artists, writers, film specialists, reading specialists, career development specialists…. I could go on and on about my talented coworkers who inspire me each day with their passion for making our community a better place to live.”

What is something you have been surprised by during your career?

“How my passions as an individual (music, art, travel, food) could help inform my job as a librarian.  You’ve probably heard that quote about libraries being your “passport to the world”…  It’s all connected!”

Is there a particularly fond memory from your time at Furman that you would be willing to share?

“Some of my fondest memories are from practicing late at night in the Daniel Music Building.  Some of the friends who would knock on my practice room door, encouraging me to take a break and head to IHOP for late night fun and greasy food, are now lifelong friends. I even married one of them!”

Furman Alumni Librarians Part 3: Heather Martin ’90

Heather Martin PhotoHeather Martin ’90

This is part 3 in our weekly summer blog series in which we will be highlighting some of the amazing Furman University alumni who have pursued careers in library and information science professions. Click here to view previous posts in this series.

Today we are featuring Heather Martin who graduated from Furman University in 1990 with a bachelor of arts degree in English. She then completed an M.L.I.S. degree through the University of South Carolina. Currently Martin works at Duke University as the Librarian of African and African American Studies!

Tell us a little bit about how you chose to work as a library and information professional?

“I worked as a student assistant in the Reference Department at the library at Furman and enjoyed helping my friends and other students. When I took a journalism feature writing course with Linda Julian, I interviewed a librarian at Greenville County Library and learned more about the different types of work librarians do. After graduating from Furman, I enrolled at USC-Columbia for library school. I was lucky to receive a newly-created internship in Thomas Cooper Library at USC, where I gained experience in multiple departments in the library. When I decided I wanted to work in academic libraries, I switched to a double master’s program in English and library science.”

What has been your professional path to your current position?

“My first job as a librarian after completing graduate school was as Reference and Outreach Librarian at Wright State University Libraries in Dayton, OH. I then worked at the University of Alabama at Birmingham as Reference Librarian and Liaison to Arts and Humanities for 18 years until moving to my current position at Duke University.”

What is the most interesting library in which you’ve worked?

“My current position at Duke University Libraries is definitely my most interesting one. Duke has amazing special collections related to African American studies, the South, and many other topics. I enjoy helping students and faculty use these collections as well as the comprehensive general collections at Duke.”

What is something you have been surprised by during your career?

“Because I worked in libraries as an undergraduate and graduate student, I didn’t have many surprises about the profession, but I have been amazed at how librarianship and libraries have expanded in using technology and the internet while fostering community and education.”

Is there a particularly fond memory from your time at Furman that you would be willing to share?

“I will always remember the close friends I made at Furman, many of whom are friends today. Going on foreign study to England was one of the highlights of my time at Furman.”

Furman Alumni Librarians Part 2: Kristi Wright ’04

Photo of Kristi Wright

Kristi Wright ’04

Kristi Wright is a self-employed conservator living in Front Royal, Virginia. We’re sure you’ll enjoy reading about her unique career. This is part 2 in our weekly summer blog series in which we highlight some of the amazing Furman alumni who have gone on to work in library and information professions. Click here to view all posts in this series. Wright graduated from Furman University in 2004 with a bachelor of arts degree in history and music. Then in 2005 she completed her master’s in library and information science from the University of South Carolina. As you’ll read below, it was some of the experiences she had at USC and her background in history and music that led her to her current role as a conservator!

Tell us a little bit about how you chose to work as a library and information professional?

I’ll confess that I initially chose to enter the world of library and information science because I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do after graduating from Furman.  I had degrees in both history and music but no clear path or passion for a career.  Learning and research remained passions of mine, though, and holing up in a secluded corner on the top floor of the Furman Library was one of my favorite places to be.  I also accrued many hours as a library volunteer while in high school.  Why not pursue a career in libraries?  You may be thinking that this does *not* constitute a clear career goal and you’d absolutely be correct – there are many opportunities to pursue in a library program!  Once in graduate school I honed in on two paths, either music librarianship or preservation, as a preferred focus for my studies.   I enjoyed these study directions and was honing in on preservation when the book repair opportunity described above appeared.  It was really that opportunity and Holly’s subsequent (and continued!) mentorship that opened the world of conservation to me and set my career in motion.

What has been your professional path to your current position?

While I was in graduate school at the University of South Carolina I saw an email requesting volunteers to learn book repair at the USC library annex.  I immediately signed up and started learning the hand-skills necessary to repair well-loved and heavily-used library books to functionality a circulating collections.  I have a background in history and a strong interest in preserving historic materials and the conservator who taught the course, Holly Herro, soon also began training me in special collections materials.  While there are several specific graduate programs available now, book and paper conservation is a trade that traditionally trained people via an apprenticeship structure and many people still enter the field using this path.  I also pursued additional courses in chemistry in order to gain an understanding of the ways materials deteriorate and effective methods to slow these processes.  After several years working full time in the USC lab, I moved to the Washington, DC area and began work as a contract conservator.  Now, about fifteen years into my career, I work on both institutional collections at the federal, state, and county levels as well as on individuals’ books and documents.

What is the most interesting library in which you’ve worked?

I currently do a lot of contract work in the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland.  The NLM, part of the National Institutes of Health, is the largest medical library in the world.  The collections are quite intriguing, and working with them is an eye-opening foray into the breadth of medical history – we have come such a long way and there is always ample work going on!  At the NLM I’ve had the opportunity to work on an exciting variety of collections ranging from incunabula to Nobel laureates’ manuscripts.  As part of my regular work there I conserve collection items, mount items for physical exhibitions, and participate in select research projects.  Currently we are in the middle of a multi-institutional collaborative project investigating the potential impact of changes in leather production and use on the longevity of leather bookbindings.  Some of this research is highlighted on the library’s blog.

What is something you have been surprised by during your career?

One exciting aspect of conservation is the juxtaposition of the old and the new.  We are continually focused on preserving historic items and much of this requires an understanding of historic techniques and processes.  However, modern analysis allows us to pursue the best materials and methods to use on these items.  Conservation is a field where art and science cross paths frequently.  Thus, not only do I use equipment and methods that have been around for centuries, I also get to stay up-to-date on emerging analytical techniques.

Is there a particularly fond memory from your time at Furman that you would be willing to share?

I think the area has been altered by subsequent renovations. but one of my favorite places to study was the top (third?) floor of the Furman Library.  I used to go past the special collections cage and find a secluded table near a window.  I loved hiding away from the bustle of campus life, being ensconced in the stacks, and, of course, surrounded by the smell of the old books (which I now know is actually the wood-pulp paper breaking down, but that doesn’t diminish my memory in the slightest).  Back then, I didn’t know how much of my future would be tied to libraries and I was usually escaping to my quiet alcove a bit stressed out by an upcoming term paper or exam.  Now, though, it’s a fond memory and one I often think back to when surrounded by library stacks in my professional life.

Furman Alumni Librarians Part 1: Susan Dicey ’78

Susan Dicey ’78

This is part 1 in our weekly summer blog series in which we will be highlighting some of the amazing Furman University alumni who have pursued careers in library and information science professions.

This week we are highlighting Susan Dicey; she is a local librarian dedicated to serving the students in the Greenville County Schools. Dicey graduated from Furman in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in English. In 1987 she graduated from the University of South Carolina with her master’s in library and information science. Since then she has worked as a media specialist for a variety of local schools at all levels in the k-12 system.

Tell us a little bit about how you chose to work as a library and information professional?

As an English major, I love literature of all varieties. I worked in retail for several years before I began my graduate degree. Bookstore jobs do not pay well nor do they have family-friendly hours.  I volunteered at my church with the youth groups and enjoyed that work.  When the option for a distance learning degree in library science opened up, I applied for the program. The MLIS let me mingle my love of literature and the excitement of working with teenagers.

What has been your professional path to your current position?

I managed bookstores after I graduated from Furman. An employee of mine was in the program at USC which was beginning its distance learning a M.L.I.S. degree, I obtained my degree and teacher certification at the same time. I began working for Greenville County Schools and have worked for that county my entire career, I have transferred schools throughout my career and have been a school librarian at all grade levels.  I live near Hillcrest Middle School and transferred to that school when the previous person retired.

What is the most interesting library in which you’ve worked?

I worked at the smallest elementary school in the county for 5 years, Fork Shoals Elementary. The school was in a rural area and had many students who lived on farms. One student brought his pet pig to school for show and tell the day it was being sent to auction. We housed 180 students with only first grade having two classes. All other grades only had one teacher per grade. Many of the students were related and ended up being in the same class as their cousins or neighbors. When I got the job at Fork Shoals, I was the newest teacher in 9 years. Teachers did not leave the school until they retired. They knew all of the students, plus had taught many of the children’s’ parents. Fork Shoals was a true family school.   A volunteer firefighter torched the school the first year I worked there. The middle third, the previous high school auditorium, burnt down. Windows were scorched on the other buildings. We were out of school for two days then resumed classes.   Fork Shoals was my first experience in an elementary school. I had to teach myself about elementary students as I had no experience with them. My students made crafts to go along with the lessons, baked cakes when we learned how to follow directions and experienced books through actions. A great place to learn my trade.

What is something you have been surprised by during your career?

I am constantly surprised how I am never bored at my job.  After 33 years in one career, I think I would be coasting at this point. However, changing grade levels and schools has meant I learn new skills and work with new staff and students. I am naturally shy but at ease in my own venue. Literature continues to change with different genres emerging all of the time. And, of course, technology changes. I would never have become so proficient at hardware and software if I were in a different job.

Is there a particularly fond memory from your time at Furman that you would be willing to share?

I went on a study abroad program to England in the fall of my junior year. That experience instilled a confidence in me that has never left. I am able to travel and be comfortable at new experiences. Dr. Pate required us to attend operas ballets and plays that I would not have attended on my own initiative. I learned to appreciate more varieties of art that fall.


Be sure to check back next week for part two in this 20-week series!