As it is Mental Health Awareness Week we thought we would share with you some transformational stories. Not only are libraries great places for Reading Engagement, they are safe inclusive environments where the hauora and well being needs of all our students, especially our diverse, vulnerable and struggling students, are met. Here's a story about how a New Zealand school library supported a student . . .
In our school we have a daily report system called "Check in-Check Out" or CICO. It is one of my jobs in the library. The students are referred to us through the Deans or Senior management. They come in the morning to pick up their form, I give a cherry morning greeting for them and send them on their way to class. In the afternoon they drop their form back off to me and we go through it together, and we chat about the day, what went well and what fell apart.
I get to know students that never would normally come into the library. I get to know our characters, our Year 10 boys who are pushing the boundaries and our students who just struggle even to be here. Is this on my job description? No! Do I love doing this? Yes.
Meet Michael. A Year 10 student on CICO - sent because he was wagging, missing classes and completely disengaged. He did not come in for his CICO form so for the first few days I had to hunt him down - good for the daily step tally. Eventually he realised I cared about him and his story and he started to pick the forms up and drop them off. He started to feel safe in our space and then one day, he did something that surprised me - he issued a book out.
I didn't say anything- incognito for a while I thought was best. The last thing a Year 10 needs is a nagging old lady librarian. Then he got another book out. He has taken out 5 this year, all nicely spaced out - so he is reading them. Not bad I think!
Michael has issues with his hearing and once he knew I would listen to him talk and talk so he could listen, he spent more time in the office. He started to do well on CICO, teachers started to give really positive comments and get off his case about the wrong shoes. Finally they saw he mattered more and that Michael was a creative, artsy, deep thinker. When he started to reveal himself, we all could see the depth of his mind and the beauty locked in it.
Michael started to flourish. He was no longer on CICO. He found new friends, safe ones, my library crew. And now he reads and we talk about it. His last book was "Frozen Charlotte" by Alex Bell. Michael has 30 Credits, and he will pass Level 1 NCEA. Last year we wondered if he would make it another week.
Michael smiles as I walk past him and the library crew who clutter the office every morning. And I smile because I know school libraries transform.
SLANZA - School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa