Meet Joyce J. Ricks
Joyce J. Ricks knows first impressions count.
"I feel librarianship is very important," says Ricks, a special eduction teacher-turned-library information specialist who has worked for 30 years in Virginia's Henrico County Public Schools and is currently at Twin Hickory Elementary School in Glen Allen, Virginia.
"I may provide the first experience that children have with a library. Young readers are so impressionable. How children view me as librarian may last a lifetime. A negative view will impact their thoughts about using libraries in the future."
"What a powerful responsibility I have. As librarian, I love to have children return to the library again and again, often times with friends."
While students, teachers, and librarians all look forward to summer break, Ricks appreciates it for a different reason. "I love the end of the school year. Not so much because of the coming days of summer vacation. I love it because it's when I can see the transformation in my kindergarten students."
"I take the time to listen to all of them read to me. It's a joy to have watched them grow as readers. It's wonderful to hear them read and to see the joy of reading success on their faces."
Ricks says her lessons—whether how to care for a book or how to evaluate a Web page—last a lifetime. "What I teach is forever. I love to connect books and kids. I promote reading as a skill and I love guiding children to reading for pleasure and leisure, a lifelong skill."
Reading to her students is a study in mutual appreciation. "I love 'wowing' my students with attention-getting read-alouds. Watching their faces hang on my every word as I read a story is thrilling to me. Hearing them laugh out loud at the funny parts or clapping their hands when the story ends gives me such a rush."
Ricks is also a resource for teachers. "I collaborate regularly with my teachers and other staff members on a daily basis. Before school, I may assist teachers with technical questions and technology support for a lesson. After school, sometimes briefly, sometimes longer, I'll meet to discuss resources, develop and plan lessons, teach technology lessons, or help a teacher with materials selection for a unit."
In the end, the basics--books--are what Ricks loves to focus on most. "Most importantly, during the day I assist children with selecting books to read or use for research and book reports. I feel my time spent at the shelves with them is most precious."