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Archive for June, 2011

Got Paid! Moving stuff ..

June 27th, 2011 at 08:22 pm

I got my first paycheck today for the insurance processing job. Smile Yay!

I also got my first two quality check reports ... Frown Hopefully they'll get better - though in a way it doesn't really matter too much since I'll be putting my 2 week notice in in a few weeks.

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My landlady JJ added material tonight to two of the three dresses I got at Kohl's a few weeks ago (two of them were her graduation gift to me.) They look pretty cool if I do say so myself. I love having someone who knows how to sew!!

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Today JJ's granddaughter and I spent nearly 90 minutes going through a box and a few bags of stuff that I needed to shred. I'd estimated it would take top at 30 minutes .... Ooops! Hopefully this will motivate me to shred things AS they come!!!

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I've been pricing out rental trucks for my move. Penske is a little bit cheaper, but I'd have to drop the truck off in Albuquerque. Uhaul has a store 30 minutes away from my final destination ... so more than likely, Uhaul will be it!

JJ suggested that I hire a couple of unemployed men to load my truck for me - offer $10/hr for 3 - 5 hours of work. That probably would be a more reliable way of getting it done than hoping that church members will come out!

My brother is trying to get a day off work - if he can, then he'll be able to help me aug 1 - 4. If not, just till the 3rd. Either way, my truck will get from here to there. Smile

Love my mom very very much ... but seriously, my brother is coming here to *drive my truck* NOT get into squabbles over where he spends the night (if indeed he even does spend it anywhere!)

Ugh!

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On Saturday we had Primary Potluck. It was also a goodbye/thank you for my assistant. Frown Luckily most of the kids signed the cards I had for her during SS class, because very few came to the actual potluck. Frown We had plenty of food, that's for sure. We did have 15 total for playing Charades after lunch though - so that was good fun. Big Grin

I found out that some of the people at church approached JJ about putting together a going away party for me. Big Grin She told me she was letting me know so that *they* don't get surprised by me making other plans for that day. Big Grin She also told me that the theme is going to be board games!!! Now THAT is what I call a party! Smile

Interview Trip :) (long :D )

June 26th, 2011 at 08:14 am

Thank you everyone for all the words of congratulations. I'm not sure if it has sunk in yet that in a few short weeks I'm no longer going to be having much free time. Big Grin It's really weird, because ever since I was laid off I've really had a pretty easy schedule. There were times I had to get up early and work long hours, but they weren't constant. Teachers are expected AT school by 7:45 a.m. so that means getting up WAY early - Monday to Friday. Of course, I'll have a two minute commute ... so not too bad. Big Grin

So I started off the week before my trip spending WAY too much money on clothes and getting a mani/pedi. Most of the clothes I got off the clearance racks at Walmart, but a few I got of the sale racks at Macy's, and I got two pairs of sale shoes at DSW. I'd looked and looked *everywhere* for shoes, but the only place that had shoes that fit *and* that I liked was DSW.

On Monday my landlord JJ got me to the airport in plenty of time. As we were driving there, I checked the gate info and found out that the plane was delayed 20 minutes. After getting to my gate, it turned out to be more like 45 minutes! When I got to Houston, I had ten minutes to make my flight - I took off my shoes and barefooted it past 20 gates! I was one of the last passengers to get on board!

Sr.'s N and M (who share a mobile home) met me at the airport. They both are older ladies - perhaps late 60's/early 70's. I was really impressed with both of them over the whole time I was there. Neither one of them had ever heard of Seventh-day Adventist, so they both had quite a few questions on that.

In Albuquerque we stopped at Fuddrucker's - their idea. Smile We chattered easily the whole time - at the meal and the two-hour ride to their home. We also made a couple stops - one at Walmart. Sr. M picked up a small round of cheesecake after learning that I shared her love of all things chocolate - but especially cheesecake. Big Grin

In order to get groceries (more than what you can get at the local Dollar General) there are 3 towns 30 miles away in 3 different directions. Otherwise, there is Albuquerque, about two hours away. So, obviously whenever they make a trek to Albuquerque, they try to consolidate it with errands.

That first evening I got settled in to my room. They share a 3 bedroom double wide mobile home. It is one of the larger and nicer homes in the mobile home park - they even have a one-car garage/shed! It was built/bought originally by a well-off mission volunteer who sold it to the mission when he and his wife had to leave due to health concerns.

Once I was settled, we all three ate cheesecake while watching the movie "Windtalkers." What a gory movie. - more gory than even "Saving Private Ryan" or "Glory."

The next day we got to the school in time for me to see the kids at the 7:30 a.m. breakfast/assembly. I was very impressed at the noise level in the cafeteria and how generally well behaved all the kids were. Before they were let go, they had "prayer." Instead of what I'd normally consider prayer - they sang a slightly different version of "You Are My Sunshine" after doing the sign of the cross in Navajo. Then they did the Pledge of Allegiance in Navajo. After that, the many volunteers that were there were introduced, and I also was introduced.

I was supposed to go out on a food run (taking food to the elderly Navajo who are far out on the reservation) but the woman who does that didn't show up. So instead, the upper grades Language Arts/Math teacher took me around. Two volunteer teachers were teaching her normal classes. It was really great talking with her. She seems like a very positive minded person, and she talked about how she really hoped that whoever the librarian was would collaborate with the LA teacher for the different lessons. I told her that that was music to my ears. Big Grin

I got to visit the two classes being taught by the volunteers. One class was discussing different reasons/forms of writing to go along with an art project they'd finished earlier. They were quite attentive, and fairly responsive. The other class was responding to pen pal letters from students in Chicago. Some of them were having a really hard time knowing what to say back because there was not much they could relate to.

Then I got to go into the computer lab and library. Big Grin They are both located in the same modular building separated by two bathrooms. The computer lab has about 25 computers and a smartboard. The computer technicians office is also in that same building. I had an opportunity to talk with her for awhile, and really liked her. She showed me the library's automation system (Destiny) and also showed me the handheld scanner that she hadn't figured out how to use yet. I found a user's guide on the internet and bookmarked it for her. She is working on getting all the books in the library cataloged into Destiny - they only got the program towards the end of this last school year.

While in the computer lab, I had the chance to take part in a computer class taught by one of the visiting teachers. One thing I noticed was that only about 70% of the kids were paying attention when the teacher was doing a PowerPoint presentation - the others were doing stuff on their computer. I mentioned to the computer technician, and to Sr. N (the principal) about a free program that could be installed so that the teacher could have complete control of ALL student computers from one computer. They were quite excited about that. Big Grin

I was pretty impressed with how comfortable the kids seemed to be with using PowerPoint. I did definitely notice that there would need to be some reinforcement of lessons on not just cutting and pasting. Smile

The library is fairly large, and within it is a large classroom which I was told is pretty much soundproof. There is a projector in both the computer lab and in the library classroom. One thing I didn't notice was an area for storytime/rug lessons. That is something I definitely will want to add - especially add in some comfy reading furniture like bean bags and low to ground futons. There were books all over everywhere, so I didn't get a really good idea of the tables - these were the books being cataloged. Overall, I was impressed by the library.

After school all the teachers/faculty go out to the busses with the kids. I got to ride on one of the busses. One of the kids from the computer class that I'd helped with her project was on it, so we had a chance to talk a little bit more. Some of these kids live nearly 40 minutes away from the school.

When I got back, we had our formal "interview." Big Grin I was already pretty comfortable with Sr. N, so it was more of a continued conversation than anything like an interview. Smile

Tuesday evening we had two of the teachers over for dinner - one of them was the upper grades teacher who'd taken me on a tour that morning. I of course was the main course. Big Grin We had a lot of discussion of religion. One of the teachers has a cousin who is a Seventh-day Adventist - so she actually knew a little bit about it. It was too funny - at one point one of the ladies was saying "well, does it really matter what day of the week you worship on?" and the teacher with an SDA cousin was going "to *some* people it *does* matter" with her eyebrows raised high and indicating me. Big Grin They asked me if I'd have any problem with attending mass every week. I told them I'd never been to a Mass, so had no idea, but if it was like the weekly chapels we had in my various schools, I'd have no problem.

Something really funny that happened (and I really hope this isn't offensive to anyone ...) but at one point one of the ladies said something about how many people have the misconception that Catholics worship Mary as the Mother of Jesus - but that the truth is that they honor her. After saying this, as a group, all four ladies turned towards me with solemn and intent looks. The same lady then asked me - "Do YOU honor Mary as the mother of Jesus?" I told them that Mary was the mother of Jesus, and that was an honor for her, so yes, I consider her to be special in that sense. They all seemed satisfied with my answer. I do wonder though if their meaning of "honor" is somewhat different than mine. Smile

We also talked about Saints and about food. There was also some conversation about the school itself and the kids - but really not all that much. After dinner, the upper grades teacher took me over to her home so I could see what my potential home might look like. Most of the mobile homes are single-wide 3 bedroom places with a backyard. Furniture such as couches, beds, and tables are provided if you don't have them. The kitchen was quite nice with all the usual appliances.

The next morning we all slept in a little bit. Smile While Sr. N and I were sitting out on the back porch eating breakfast and enjoying the morning air, she asked me whether or not I'd be ready to sign a contract if she had one ready for me when I got back from the food run. She said she needed to speak with a few people first, but wanted to know what I was thinking. I told her that I'd be more than happy to sign a contract. Big Grin

When we got to the school I asked to see a copy of the teacher handbook. Wow! Having been out of the regular school environment for six years, things have definitely changed. They had nearly three pages devoted to rules and regulations about technology use by teachers and students. One thing in the dress code for teachers which really struck my funny bone was that we can wear "dressy" capris. I've never thought of capris as dressy, so later asked Sr. N what that meant. She defined them as having a "tailored" look versus what you might wear to a picnic. She also told me that the capris I was wearing when I asked her about it, were just fine. Big Grin

While I was waiting to go out on the food run, I had a chance to talk with one of the volunteers from Chicago. He was a pretty nice man (married!) In the end it turned out that our talk was a very good thing, because he and some of his group followed me and the food run driver in a van on the run. We'd gotten a late start, and by 12:18 only had half of the meals delivered. I needed to be back to the school by 12:45. So the people in the van took me back. Of course, we didn't actually get out of there til nearly 2 p.m. ... Smile

The lady driving the jeep for the food run was a Navajo. At first she was pretty quiet, but then she started talking more (after I showed her some interest). She'd been off the reservation and working as a nurse's aide in Albuquerque, but had had to come back due to some family problems. Most of the homes we went to were of some type or degree of mobile homes - generally set out by themselves, or in a group of two or three. There were LARGE amounts of space between each home or set of homes. Mostly the roads were rutted dirt or gravel. Can you say Dust?

I sort of learned how to say Hello and Thank You in Navajo. I attempted it with a few of the people we stopped at. Smile From what I was told, the Navajo are very much about saving face - so even if I'd completely mangled the pronunciations, they would not say anything. At one point, everyone got out of their vehicles and we were taken into a traditional hogan. The elderly woman in it was someone who enjoys visitors. No electricity. No running water. No air conditioning. She was very friendly. The Navajo woman driving the jeep translated back and forth for us.

Oh - almost forgot! I found out from the jeep driver that there had actually been another person they interviewed for this position who'd been there the week before.

When I got back to the school, there was a contract waiting for me on Sr. N's desk. Big Grin She told me that everyone she'd spoken to (including a number of the volunteer leaders) had spoken highly of me. Big Grin

After I signed the contract Big Grin she printed off a number of informational sheets for me. I also found out that I will get a 401K type plan! Big Grin She also said that they'd be meeting on Tuesday to figure out the scheduling. (I'll be teaching PK3 - 8th grade library, and only 1st - 8th Computers. I'm going to be quite busy!)

As we were about to leave to head out to Albuquerque, we had quite the excitement. One of the neighbors dogs broke out of it's collar and ran over to our house. She eventually got into the backyard (fenced). The sister's dog Ben (sweet old fella) placidly laid there watching all the excitement. Both of the Sister's were trying to get the dog out. I ended up successfully getting it out (once - it ended up getting back in) by getting its attention, and then running away from it. It then of course ran after me and out of the yard. Smile We ended up leaving with it still in the backyard (it managed to squeeze through the space between the gate and fence.) Quite exciting. Smile

Overall, I am very excited about this opportunity. I think it will be quite challenging - definitely take me out of my comfort zone. Attempting to do a good job as both the librarian and the computer teacher is going to be very time consuming. But .. there isn't much in the way of evening entertainment anyway. Smile I will be very much in a fishbowl as far as my faith is concerned. They will be watching me very closely I imagine - one of the Sister's asked me if I'd ever met a Nun before. I told her that I hadn't. She laughed and said that they better be on their best behavior then so I get a good impression. I responded by saying that I too need to be on my best behavior so they get a good impression of Adventists. Big Grin

Working with the kids will be a challenge too. I've worked with full classrooms of younger kids, but not too much with older kids (other than my tutoring students.) One thing Sr. N stressed strongly was the need for strong classroom management - but also that she will back me up when needed.

The older kids (6th - 8th) have a really neat system set up campus wide. They are divided into "houses" ala Harry Potter. (haven't read them, so not totally sure what that entails) Teachers can add or deduct "house points" for behavior, homework, etc. At the end of each quarter (I think) the winning house gets to go on a field trip. The points, etc. are all done online. Each "house" has a leader and several other students that act as kind of motivators.

I'll be leaving towards the end of July so that I have time to get settled into my house and get started on my classroom/library. Big Grin

Oh! Almost forgot. Smile Due to my Master's degree, I will get nearly an extra $1k per year to my salary. Big Grin I'm going to be the only new staff member this year. The other teachers have been there anywhere between 2 years and 8 (other than Sr. N who's been there for over 16!)

Pat yourself on the back if you actually made it through to the end of this. Big Grin

Keeping it Frugal in NM - aka I'm a librarian!!!!

June 22nd, 2011 at 03:11 pm

I'll have to write more about my trip later when I get home, but I had to share this with you all! This morning Sister N asked me if I was ready to sign a contract if she had one ready for me when I got back from the food run. I told her yes of course. Big Grin Big Grin
She just had to talk to two of the teachers we had dinner with last night.

When I got back, she had a contract on the desk waiting for me. Big Grin

God is good!!!!!!!

I want to add THANK YOU! Y'all have been so good to me and so supportive. I love my SA family.

Getting close to New Mexico time! This & That Catch Up

June 17th, 2011 at 07:02 pm

Yikes! I'll be leaving to go to my interview in New Mexico on Monday around noon. I'm pretty much packed - found a few clothing items at Walmart on clearance. Now just need to get some nice sandals.

I hadn't heard from them since May 28!!! I'd sent a couple emails with some questions ... and was starting to get worried. Finally today I got an email that told me "don't worry about dressing fancy, jeans and capris are fine."

Well I have two pairs of capris, and a pair of jeans, and a nice broomstick style skirt (long) - all courtesy of Walmart's clearance. I was really needing something cooler than my black dress pants and dressier than my pink or blue track pants for wearing to my tutoring appointments. Smile

I wish I had clue one about what all we are going to talk about. The Sr. and I will have a TWO HOUR drive from the airport to the school. Plus she said we'd stop to get something to eat (would it be appropriate to say Taco Bell if asked??)

Tuesday morning I get to go out on a Meals-on-Wheels run so I can see the reservation. Then I think my official interview is Tuesday afternoon. I'm not sure what I'm going to be doing Wednesday morning. I was hoping to be able to spend some time in the computer lab and library before my interview ...

JJ (my landlady) thinks I should keep my hair in an updo the whole time - it would be more professional looking. Maybe a French roll?? It sure would be cooler than having my hair down ... (and easier!)

Arghh!!! I'm nervous enough when it comes to interviews that are an hour or less worth of interaction. This is going to be nearly three days - including lots of time in cars ... I tend to clam up when I'm nervous or not comfortable .... or ... I become Miss Chatty Cathy and say lots of stuff to just fill the silence (half of which I wonder why I just said whatever it was I said)

I know I have a lot of people praying for me (although quite a few of them I think are praying halfheartedly - they want me to stay here, or at least not go to NM!) If this is where God wants me to be, I just have to trust that it'll all work out. If not, then I know I have a way of bringing in income one way or another.(insurance processing/tutoring)

I'd really love any suggestions from y'all regarding the in-reality Three Day Interview!

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I updated my Living Frugal blog with the story of how I managed to graduate debt free from grad school. Although with all the spending I've been doing this past while (plane ticket, fixed car a/c shredder??? and refilled freon, dental work ....etc.) my savings account is looking really slim. Frown

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Today I finished my first full week doing the insurance processing. There are some things I really like about it (especially once I get my first paycheck!) and some I really don't care for. Overall, it is a good stopgap measure - definitely not something I'd want to do long term.

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JJ has no cartilage in her knees. And in order for her to have any kind of knee surgery, she needs to lose weight. The only exercise she can do without killing her knees is the reclined bike. She has had a membership with twenty 4 hr fitness for several years, but hasn't used it in 9 months. So ... on Monday morning we went in there and I told the sales guy that I was *only* going to be here till the end of July, and I would be moving someplace *nowhere* near one of their facilities. I ended up being signed on as a family member on a month-to-month plan for a total of $64 (good till Aug 15.) Ouch.

The good thing is that JJ and I have been there 4 times this week. Her granddaughter came with us twice. On Monday I could just do 20 minutes on the treadmill (intervals). Today I did 40 minutes. Smile It is still hot in the gym, but WAY cooler than outside (100+ degrees!) It will be worth it if it gets JJ back into the habit of gym going (and it's pretty good for me too) Big Grin

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My brother's taking flying lessons!! I'm not sure what brought this on, or what his plans are beyond getting certified to fly a small plane ... but how cool is that??

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I had a very scary experience while driving a few weeks ago. I was stopped at a light when a lady in a red car stopped behind me. I noticed two things pretty quickly - 1. Her hood was smashed in like she'd been in a head on crash, and 2. She had a cigarette hanging out of her mouth (drooping would be more apt). She had an overall look of someone not altogether with it. My defensive driving senses came to alert status.

While the light was still RED, all of a sudden I noticed the lady behind me coming closer and closer. She then preceded to BUMP my rear!! Finally the light turned green. We preceded to a narrow two-lane road surrounded by construction projects going on. She kept on going slow behind me, then speeding up. I was going the speed limit. Then suddenly, she is right on my bumper, and passes me - double yellow line with a cement truck coming the opposite direction - I had to slow down quite a bit so she wouldn't cause a crash!!

She got stopped at the next light, and I took a picture of her license plate. Then we were both turning left. Before the left turn signal turned green, she got out into the intersection, and came within centimeters of getting T-boned by yet another cement truck!! I noticed after turning left that she pulled over into a side lane - I think she was waiting to see if I was going to follow her.

My adrenaline was sure pumping - but I had to go to the bank and run some other errands.

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I have a new tutoring student!! The mom of the preschool girl I tutored last semester, and who's son I am now working with, is a hairdresser. She and her neighbor/friend/client were discussing their children and it came up that her n/f/c was looking for a tutor for her son. Big Grin I had my first session with him on Tuesday. A really sweet kid. Oh, the funny thing about the other boy? My mom had worked with him and his older sister - said he was very difficult to work with. I've now worked with him three times, and have not found that to be the case at all!

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I can't remember if I mentioned this or not ... but ... I got a new computer!! I had to get a new monitor for my processing job (19") and I'd been saving all my Amazon gift cards, etc. that I'd been earning from the various sites for the goal of replacing my computer. Well, with the graduation money I received plus the AGC money, I decided to bite the bullet and get a new computer!

It's an Acer Slimline w/ Win 7, 1 tB memory, 9 usb ports, etc. I was worried about how I'd like Win 7 versus XP, but I actually do like it quite a bit. Plus now when my dad calls with technical questions about his computer (running Win7) I can actually SEE what it looks like, rather than trying to visualize from his descriptions. Big Grin

The CPU unit is SO small! My screen is both wider and taller than it.

Now I just need to get my printer working again ... It is a wireless printer, and the Wi Fi here doesn't work - you have to be plugged in. I have my printer plugged in to the computer via USB, but after working two or three times, it has now just stopped responding. When I get back next week I'll have to spend some time on it.

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I'm so sad. My Sabbath School assistant is moving in a couple of weeks. She has been SO reliable - like my right hand. Frown We are having a Primary SS Potluck and Charades next weekend. Unbeknownst to her, we also are having a thank you/goodbye party. Smile

It looks like the nominating committee has found two possible people to be my assistants. (New year starts first Saturday of July). I hope they are even half as reliable as OB. Especially since I may have to be leaving my kids in their hands. (if I get the NM job)

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Did you hear that ING has been bought by Capital One? YUCK!! Even as the interst rates have dropped, I still have been a big fan of ING. They have such awesome customer service, and better yet they actively encourage people to SAVE!

I'll wait till CapOne starts charging fees for every little nit picking thing - but I will be moving my money sooner than later.

Someone on FB suggested Ally, and another person suggested USAA. Is USAA open to non-military, etc. personnel?

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Okay, I better close out this book. Smile I need to make sure not to take so long between updates. Smile

Now I'm going to attempt to go catch up on all the blogs! Big Grin

Officially an Insurance Certificate Processor!

June 9th, 2011 at 09:33 pm

It is late so I won't write too much, but had to share the good news. Smile Tonight I passed the second test, and was officially accepted as an insurance certificate processor. I start my first shift Friday at 11 a.m.

It's been a long and busy week - but a good one too!

We had orientation on Monday night, then class Tuesday, Wednesday and tonight. We started with 6 in our class, and are now down to 4. I got a 92 on both tests. Smile

Now, for a while at least, I will be assured of at least $200/week, up to $320, plus whatever little I make with tutoring. Biggest bonus - NO GAS MONEY (except for tutoring of course) Big Grin

Will write more later!

Finally! Really starting WAH job! LA Librarians Outrage!

June 2nd, 2011 at 06:10 pm

I got a phone call and an email tonight letting me know that the training class will start Monday night! It will be for four nights. Then I can start putting some hours in! Smile

This is the insurance certificates processing job. (Not a scam - one of my housemates has worked for them since October/November.)

What this basically means is that I won't have to eat into my savings this summer just to survive - thanks to a dearth of tutoring students. God is good!

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I worked with my new student today. I'd heard he was really obnoxious and spoiled. He didn't give me any problems whatsoever. Big Grin It may or may not last, but first impression at least is that he's a good kid.

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Have any of you heard about what is happening in Los Angeles? The LA school district has RIF'd (laid off) ALL 85 of it's school librarians. As if that isn't enough of an insult (and detriment to the kids educations!!), they are now making the librarians go to court and prove that they are teachers!!! The whole reason behind it is that if the ISD's lawyers can get the judge hearing the case to say that a school librarian is NOT a teacher, then they (the ISD) does not have to find them (the librarians) another position within the district.

Here is an impassioned blog post about it by one of the affected librarians: LA School Librarian blog post

Here is an article about it from the LA Times:
Disgraceful interrogation of L.A. school librarians

The bottom line to all this is unfortunately just that - the bottom line. Money. What these school district officials just don't see though is how these short term "savings" will have innumerous long term effects. There are numerous studies showing how a certified school librarian positively affects students test scores. CA also has a law where a library cannot operate without a certified librarian. So, in just one of the schools, the library has assets worth at least $1 million dollars. If the library is closed, that is a lot of assets going to waste. If the schools decide to circumvent the law and have non-certified personnel run it, or just leave it open for students and teachers to get materials at will, then chaos will surely rein and much loss of property will occur. (Not that anyone will mean for it to happen, but ...) The long term costs though are the most serious. Classroom teachers are already overwhelmed with everything they have to cover. Having a librarian there who can teach the necessary research skills to students, while connecting it with the curriculum, is invaluable. Having a librarian there who, as part of their job, keeps current with technology and passes that knowledge on to teachers and students, is invaluable.

The kids lose out today, and they lose out tomorrow.

Argh!!