Friday, March 18, 2011

A Remarkable Reward

by Lois Jamieson

When I first began volunteering at StarShine, before the Manners Matter Club and the High School Girl’s Fashion/Etiquette Club, I worked as the Librarian and reader of books. Every week I read books to the kindergarten through seventh grade classes. Reading to the kids was very rewarding. I got to know the children and it was great fun. 

One day, Jan asked me if I would add the high school classes to my reading schedule. I was a bit skeptical about the desire of high school students to be read to. Jan assured me that the high school students would love it. Up until this moment, I had only spent time with the older students when they came to the library to request a book. I’ll admit I was uncomfortable and a bit nervous about reading to the high school. First of all, the students were all bigger than I am. Second, the high school students lived a life I had no knowledge of. And third, many of these students came from troubled or struggling homes, if they even had a home. 

My first task was to find a book the high school students might enjoy. I had just finished reading a book by Randy Pausch titled, “The Last Lecture.”  I thought it was such an inspirational book that I decided to start by reading it. So… I gathered up my courage and walked into the high school classroom. My first thought was, “What am I doing reading a book about a dying man to these kids?”

After nervously clearing my throat, I began reading. To my amazement there was no fidgeting, no talking and no falling asleep. The students sat quietly at their desks looking right at me and just listened. I read for about thirty minutes. The big surprise came when I finished reading. The students all stood up, applauded and thanked me! From that first reading, I developed the same rewarding experience that I had with the younger children. I grew to love reading to the high school students and got to know some of them very well. 

I am not a teacher. I never have been, however this experience gave me a certain confidence in the classroom I had not had. By spending time with the high school girls, I learned of their desire to have a Fashion Club. The Fashion/Etiquette club developed from those discussions. 

I don’t read to the classrooms anymore. I’m very busy with the two clubs and managing the library. But -- I remember what a wonderful and growing experience it was for me to read to the high school students.