Laura Sheppard

Posted: January 27, 2020

This week’s HOPE & JOY comes courtesy of Marilyn Boerke.  Thanks Marilyn and thanks to Laura for sharing with us. Enjoy!

Laura Sheppard serves the students and staff at Dorothy Fox Elementary School as their Media Assistant, for which her primary responsibility is providing clerical support for Teacher-Librarian Sarah Logan and keeping the library collection organized. The library is a welcoming and lively space, as evidenced by the doorstop pictured here. I talked to Laura about her connections to students and the plot of her story.

What do you love about your job?“I feel proud to be a part of the Dorothy Fox library, a warm, welcoming and bustling hub, where in addition to building the value of literacy, we strive to provide a place where students feel safe, happy and a sense of connection.  I focus on building positive respectful connections, letting students know that I see them, that they are important and are valued.   I feel a quiet satisfaction when I see a student’s face light up when they realize I know they spell their name with a Y not an I and two N’s or remember what book they were reading or the name of their new pet hamster.”

When we spoke, there were multiple students handling books and tidying shelves, and Laura stated, “This year, I had over 50 students apply to be a volunteer Library Leader, over twice the amount of volunteers from last year, tasked with helping to shelve books and straighten shelves.  I feel an overwhelming sense of pride when the student volunteers arrive with big smiles on their faces asking for their job assignments, demonstrating responsibility and a sense of ownership of the library.”

The students echoed this statement, overwhelmingly agreeing they felt good about helping keep the library in good shape, and especially liked helping the kindergarteners. They added that helping Mrs. Sheppard helped them learn, discussing the sections of the library and how many different types of books there were.

How do you adapt your teaching and interaction style to specific students?

“Consistency and kindness are my starting point.  I pay close attention to body language so if I feel there is a problem such as a miscommunication, I’ll focus on being more concise with my verbal communication, making sure I’m using words that they understand.  I’ll pause and wait, giving the student time to process and respond.  I’ll make adjustments to my body position so that we are eye to eye, and adjust my tone of voice.  There are situations that I find moving to a different location to give the student a change of scene or sense of privacy is helpful.  I ask questions to make sure they understand and actively demonstrate that they have my undivided attention.  At times I’ll ask the teacher for insight about the student, making sure I’m aware of any specific learning style or family situation that the student may be experiencing.“

Laura’s final statement is a reflection of the plot of our district’s story. “I love that I get to support talented and passionate teachers that every day make me feel as though I’m an integral member of the team, making a positive impact in the lives of our students and our school community.”

Reflection questions:

  • How do your specific students influence the plot of your story?
  • How are plot, students and their cultures reflected in your learning space?

Framework Connections:

3.2 Planning and Preparing for the Needs of All Students

5.0 Fostering and Managing a Safe Learning Environment

8.2 Promoting Positive Interactions with Colleagues