Between the Lines: December Member Spotlight
Lisa Hernandez, Alternative High School Librarian, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo (PSJA) Elvis J. Ballew College, Career & Technology Academy
What inspired you to become a librarian?
My husband Smiley inspired me to become a school librarian. During my four years as a teacher, Smiley and I started our family. After having two children (ages sixteen months and a newborn), I became a stay-at-home mom. While home, I contemplated finding a part-time job. One day, Smiley handed me a copy of the local newspaper which was advertising a part-time librarian position. I thought I want to be a librarian. The position required a Master’s degree in Library Science. I researched possibilities and enrolled with Sam Houston State University (SHSU). I earned my master’s degree from SHSU.
I have been an educator for more than 27 years, and a librarian for more than 23 years. Presently, I find myself continuing to help students discover their potential as readers and I love being part of a great profession.
What is an innovative practice at your library that you’d like to share with others?
One innovative practice is the e-Research Plan Portfolio. It serves as an educational tool for high school students and college students making the transition from high school-level research to college-level research. The portfolio can be found on the school library webpage: https://www.psjaisd.us/Page/221 .
The second innovative practice is reading and suggesting picture books to high school students.
Picture books are a great conversation starter regarding literacy. When I read or suggest picture books to high school students, I am targeting different types of readers: avid, reluctant, and struggling.
Avid readers like reading and appreciate stories no matter the genre. Once the picture book is read, avid readers read and check out library books with ease.
Reluctant readers need positive experiences with reading. The majority of the picture books I read have the same or higher reading levels than YA (young adult) literature. Once I read a book and mention its reading level, students begin to visualize themselves reading a YA book with ease.
Lastly, struggling readers also need to experience reading success. Picture books (that I select) are thirty-two pages in length and many of them match or exceed YA book reading levels, so struggling readers practice their reading skills using a genre that makes the task manageable and obtainable.
Some of the picture books I recommend are: A Taste of Colored Water by Matt Faulkner, The Sweetest Fig by Chris Van Allsburg, and Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask by Xavier Garza.
If you could have dinner with three authors (living or dead), who would they be and why?
If I could have dinner with three authors, they would be the late Ann Petry, Lois Lowry, and the late Stan Lee. When I was in sixth grade, I recall visiting the school library and reading Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad. Since meeting Harriet by way of Petry, I enjoy reading biographies about amazing people. In 1996, at the public library, I read Lowry’s novel The Giver. I looked up from its pages and thought, what an aesthetic experience! I rushed home to tell Jonas’s story, and by sharing, I became a giver, too. In 2014, I attended the American Library Association Annual Conference at which (renowned comic book writer and creator of Spider-Man) Stan Lee was a keynote speaker, a literary legend.
What are you reading right now?
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
What is your most memorable Texas Library Association experience?
My most memorable Texas Library Association experience was attending, for the first time, the annual conference in 1998. Librarians, authors, keynote speakers, presenters, and vendors were everywhere. As a new librarian, I was amazed with its magnitude and organization. I felt right at home (and still do).