I learned about The Beacon School from my librarian friends who had heard about the opening. They urged me to give it a shot so I did, and was fortunate enough to have been invited by Beacon to join its library team in 2016.
Beacon instantly felt unique, even though I had worked at an international school previously. The curriculum is different. The teaching and learning experience is different. Even the international school culture here, steeped in Filipino traditions, was new. I felt that as soon as I came on board because just a few weeks away was the International and Book Week – a major school-wide event. I was the head of a committee, so I had to learn a lot and fast. It was a memorable learning experience for me.
Over the years, it became clear to me that the library is an integral part of the learning and teaching experience here in Beacon. Our curriculum is heavily supported by books. Therefore, our book collections are curated not just by the staff, but also by the teachers. The students are involved as well because we ask them what they are reading and what their interests are, and they provide us with book recommendations.
We purchase two types of books: those that support the curriculum, and those that support students who read for fun. We want them to come to the library not just for academic reasons, but also for leisure, so we offer books that they would enjoy reading by themselves.
This is why we had changed the way we organized our collection. For the past 2-3 years, we started genrefying our collection to help our students find more easily the genres they like reading. If they want to pick up a horror book, we have a horror section. If they like fantasy, we have a dedicated section for that. Having these books organized in this way allows them to discover new titles in their preferred genre.
When I enter a classroom, or while walking the halls, students would say “Miss Aza! I missed going to the library today” or “Miss Aza I didn’t see you today” or “Miss Aza we didn’t have library today.” They touch my heart. Once, a Grade 1 homeroom teacher told me that when asked to choose between library or math as their favorite subject, the students chose the library. It makes me smile, and though at first I wouldn’t think much of it, I would soon realize that our students pay attention to what we do. They do miss the library, and that makes me feel really good as a librarian and as a teacher here.
Even the alumni, when they come to visit, they stop by the library. One of their favorite spots is the Grade 3 author collection, which consists of stories they authored and published when they were in Grade 3. We keep copies here in the library, and they are borrowed by other students. So when they come, they ask us right away: “Do you still have my book?”
The Beacon community is a community of readers. You would rarely meet students who would say they don’t like reading. Most of our students always have a book on them, which is why we increased the number of books because some of them would ask, “Miss Aza, why can I only borrow 3?” We also encourage parents to be a part of their children’s life in the library. Since our collection is online, the parents can look for books there then come to the library and select the books with their children. In fact, students are allowed to borrow more books when their parents are with them. We have parents who regularly come to the library to borrow books, which I think is a great experience for both the parents and their kids.
– Aza S.
Beacon School librarian since 2016