Last year’s powerhouse of a librarian, Sandra (Sunny) Childs retired after twenty-six long years as a teacher and librarian at Franklin High School. Even though the library will feel very different without her, Sunny assured the school in the weekly newsletter that “Our new library media specialist is a wonderful educator and you will be in good hands.” Ms. Ayn Frazee, the new addition to the Franklin community, is prepared for this crazy year and in her own words is “Ready to roll!”
Despite her current passion for libraries, Frazee didn’t know that was what she wanted to do right away. When she graduated from high school at 17, she pursued her interest in science in California and became a genetics major at UC Davis. However she quickly came to the conclusion that it wasn’t what she wanted to be doing. Frazee said that she realized that she wasn’t supposed to work by herself and she wasn’t supposed to do any kind of work where she had to spend all day in a lab. She switched to a human development major with an emphasis on early childhood education. After she graduated, Frazee became a preschool teacher and worked with little kids whose brains were just developing. This was the job that inspired Frazee to become both a teacher and a librarian. After applying for a program at Portland State University and getting her masters, Frazee ended up with a job she loves where she can work with people and books simultaneously.
Before starting this year at Franklin, Frazee has spent eight years as a teacher and librarian for all ages, from kindergarten through middle school. This year she wanted to do something different and switch to a more challenging setting. As a high school librarian, Frazee can work directly with students to build academic skills and use library resources to support future college and career plans. She is also looking forward to collaborating with teachers all across the content areas.
Libraries may be Ms. Frazee’s jam, but one of her other passions is volunteer work. Frazee is currently volunteering through the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and works with their Equity, Diversity and Inclusion task force to bring more diversity into the library profession. “I am Latina and it feels really important to me that librarians who are serving diverse kids and young adults are also diverse,” explained Frazee. Along with the ALSC, she also volunteers through the American Library Association and is on the board of the Oregon Association of School Libraries. These positions help her get kids connected with scholarships and lets her work with other school librarians to support each other professionally.
Even though this school year is not an ideal situation, Frazee is hoping to build a welcoming space with the library this year, even if it is online. She said, “I want students to seek out the library. I want students to feel welcome and I want them to feel like their interests and identities are reflected in what the library has in as far as books and things, but also the programs that we have.” Frazee then explained, “It’s not my library, it’s the students’ library. I think sometimes libraries can feel exclusive or they can feel like it’s not for everybody, but I really want to make sure that everybody at Franklin feels like the library is their library.”
Because of the extra challenge of COVID-19, achieving her library goals are a lot harder this year for Frazee. Even with the limited resources and restrictions, Frazee is planning big things with what she’s got. One of the main things is continuing the tradition of the Franklin Poetry Slam and the Franklin Story Slam. Frazee is also planning a virtual read-in and a couple author visits. She is very confident that she will be able to transition these events online, with lots of communication and event promotion.
Even though online learning itself is difficult, Frazee explained that her biggest challenge this year was something different.“I’m a real relationship person. Normally, I’d be waving to people in the hallways, and you know, saying hi to them in the library, but it’s so hard on a screen.” She then went on to say, “To build a strong library program, you have to have those relationships and it’s just been a unique experience trying to connect with students and teachers [without that interaction].”
Despite the many challenges this year, Frazee has a great attitude and lots of enthusiasm; she hopes that everybody is paying attention to what the library has going on and that we’ll get to know her personally. “I’m so excited to be joining the Franklin community and I feel so positively about the direction that we’re headed and the possibility that that I see ahead of us; I think we can take the library to some new, and exciting places.”