Letter to the Editor

Librarian inspired students

Friday, August 9, 2019

At the end of the school year, Karen Johnson resigned as librarian at Eureka Springs Elementary. She’ll leave some very big shoes to fill.

When I worked for Carroll County Newspapers in the late 1990s, we had the luxury of spending more time covering school news. That gave me a chance to see teachers in action, especially in the elementary school. My kids went to Berryville schools, so I also knew something about teachers from my kids and their friends.

Karen taught fourth grade at Berryville then, and even from the hallway, I could see the difference in her class: visibly engaged kids, an animated and expressive teacher. (My daughter had Karen for fourth grade, followed by Sue Clanton and Colleen High the next two years. Almost inevitably, Rose followed in their footsteps, and became an excellent elementary teacher herself.)

We don’t see many teachers coaching youth sports, and I can’t really blame them. After all day juggling 25 kids, who wants to spend another couple hours teaching kids to play softball? Karen did, and she did it very well, with that same combination of expectation and encouragement. When she left the classroom to become a school librarian at Berryville, I thought we had lost one of our best classroom teachers, but Karen had the opportunity to reach more kids in the library.

A few years ago, she came to Eureka Elementary as librarian, and my grandchildren have both benefitted from Karen’s love of books. When the kids got home from school a couple of years ago, they wanted to show me the books they had gotten at the book fair, an annual event which genuinely excites most of the little Scotties. As my first-grade grandson showed me “Captain Underpants,” he stopped in mid-sentence, and asked, “Wait, why would they have this at the book fair?” His sister, a little older and wiser, answered, “Because she knows kids would want to read it!” Well, yeah. (The book is often censored because a couple of boys hypnotize the principal into becoming a superhero wearing a cape and underpants.)

Instead of thinking of what the school has lost, I’ll try to remember all the kids Karen has inspired in the classroom, in the library, and on the ballfields.

— Mike Ellis