Thomas House

Posted on 07 June 2012

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The Bridgehampton School English teacher and trustee of The Hampton Library talks about tools to keep literature relevant for his students and why building a strong relationship between the school and the library will only benefit the students of Bridgehampton.

By Kathryn G. Menu

What interested you in joining The Hampton Library’s Board of Trustees?

I am a new teacher, in my second year full-time, but I always used the library even while I was getting my certified. I just love it. Even when I was student teaching the seventh grade, and this is going back a few years, I organized a few field trips to the library for the seventh and ninth grades and those kids that didn’t have library cards were signed up and they became more familiar with what is available there. The whole idea was to help them understand the library is not just a place to read books. There is so much going on there.

How have you, as a teacher, used The Hampton Library as a direct resource for your classes?

I was using the library so much that when I heard they were expanding the board I thought it was time to give back because I use the library to death, but not just for myself, also for my teaching. Even in terms of getting the kids books, the library has been great. For instance, I decided this particular group of ninth graders would do really well with “Maus” by Art Spiegleman and it would have been hard just to order them — it would have taken too long. But the library, in two days, got me as many copies as I needed and we were able to use them for as long as we needed. It was their favorite book of the year.

You worked with Hampton Library director Kelly Harris in developing an end of year program at the library for your students revolving around the book “War Horse.” How did this come about?

It’s on June 19th, which is actually the last full day of school so it will be a nice ending to the school year. Kelly approached me and mentioned that Hudson City Savings Bank had money for a library program so we brainstormed about what we could do with the students and came up with the idea of giving each student a copy of “War Horse.” We will have a pizza lunch and watch the film, which the library already has. We will spend some time talking about the book first. We will read the first chapter or two to prep. It’s a great way to get students into the library and engage them in reading.

What kind of literature are your students interested in right now?

The ninth grade really likes “Maus,” which is good because it is non-fiction and there is a big push for that in schools complying with common core learning standards, which requires us to teach a lot more non-fiction where it was more literary, more narrative oriented in the past. “Maus” is wonderful for that. Not only is it a great narrative and told in graphic novel fashion, which is engaging to a lot of students, but it is non-fiction. They [the main characters] are animals, but it is the autobiography of his [the author’s] father’s experience as a Holocaust survivor. It was exciting to find non-fiction that engaged them.

Looking forward, how do you expand this growing relationship between the library and the school?

I have to say that Kelly Harris, who is a fairly new director, has made a lot of connections with the school, working with [Bridgehampton School] Superintendent Dr. Lois Favre. I am a board member, Jackie Poole, our pre-kindergarten teacher is also a board member and so is Elizabeth Kotz who is on the board of education, so I think all of us are committed to growing the connections between the school and the library. I would like to see us do more programming at the library.

Almost like making The Hampton Library another classroom?

That would be great. I also want students to know they have a place where they can read in peace.

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