Featured Educators

Claudette Beardon, librarian and Cecelia Mitchell, library clerk

“Sometimes I get really depressed when I come to the end of a book because I want it to go on.”

Computers are useful and they are definitely here to stay but books, books, glorious books will always be the first loves of Cecilia Mitchell and Claudette Beardon who both work at EPIC School in Birmingham, Alabama.

EPIC (Educational Program for the Individual Child) School is a unique K-5 school. It has approximately 500 students from all over the city and parents sometimes camp out to get their children enrolled there. EPIC serves hearing impaired students, children with muscular dystrophy, the gifted and talent, and a population of students who come from all over the world. EPIC has earned a reputation for serving all of these students well. “We’re all different but we’re all alike,” said library clerk Cecelia Mitchell of EPIC’s school philosophy.

Claudette Bearden, the EPIC School librarian, is a book lover from way back. She loved to read as a girl. “I loved the Nancy Drew series,” she recounted. “If I could get a Nancy Drew book, I was in heaven.” Nowadays, she’s hard pressed to single out any one children’s book to name as a favorite - “There are so many that made a difference to me,” she said. Among the ones she named: The C. S. Lewis stories, the Newbery winner, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg, the books and illustrations by Ashley Bryan, The Great Gilly Hopkins and everything else by Katherine Paterson.

She believes that even in the digital age, reading is still important. “I don’t think anything can take the place of a book,” said this librarian of 34 years. Sometimes I get really depressed when I come to the end of a book because I want it to go on.” When her son was small, she read him Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. This veteran librarian said the book was so emotionally evocative that “We would read a passage, then I’d have to stop and cry. I just sobbed and my son did, too.”

Cecelia Mitchell believes that more parents should read to their children. “Sit down with your child at least twenty minutes a day and read to them,” she said. She also wants teachers to motivate students more. “Excite the kids to read. Assign books to read. When you read, your learning ability expands.” As for her favorite children’s books, Mitchell told me, “When I write my own - that’ll be my favorite.”