Mendenhall in Teacher Feature

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Marilyn Mendenhall, a 1973 graduate of Iroquois High School, was recently the Teacher Feature in the South Dakota Department of Education Online Zebra: Education News in Black and White.

Mendenhall is the elementary librarian at Hillcrest, Medary, and Dakota Prairie elementary schools and Camelot Intermediate School in the Brookings School District.

Tell us about your work.

I am so lucky! I get to work with young children and books all day. I get to share stories through picture books and help them learn to research using books and databases.

The children are eager to understand their world. As an elementary school librarian, I get to see the world through their eyes. When they ask me for the book with the red cover that I showed them last year, they really think that I will remember which book they wanted.

What lessons really resonate with your students?

I especially enjoy teaching about famous people, such as Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner. Malala stresses how important it is for all children to receive an education. One time, a year after this lesson, a first-grade student saw a photo of Malala that was the size of my smallest fingernail. The student shrieked and said, “Look! It’s that girl you taught us about last year!”

I am fortunate that the teachers are always grateful for any resources or help that I can give them. The teachers are doing the hard work of teaching the children to read. I get to help the students find just the right book that they will enjoy reading.

What advice would you offer other school librarians?

I would quote Malala Yousafzai, "One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world."

Remember how important you are in the life of the child standing before you.

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