Mrs. Shannon Will: Arcadia High’s New Teacher Librarian

Kira Camacho, Staff Writer

Shannon Will is Arcadia High School’s new Teacher Librarian. Through an interview with her, I learned that she is perfect for the job. 

Mrs. Will went to school in Long Beach, California. She remembers spending lots of time in her elementary school library and loving to read. Though Mrs. Will had a love for libraries and books since elementary school, she never thought of it as a career. She started in education, teaching high school English for 10 years. 

“While I was teaching, I would pop into the library at my school. And I thought, what a cool job,” Mrs. Will said. It wasn’t until she started teaching that she considered it for a career. “So I went back to school, and I got my master’s degree in library science, and got my library credential and just fell into place from there.”

Mrs. Will went to Cal State LA for her undergraduate degree and teaching credential. She then went to San Jose State University for her master’s and library credentials.

“All the literature classes I took as an undergrad [were my favorites]. My major was English with a focus on teaching,” Mrs. Will explained. She said that being exposed to different authors, like James Baldwin, inspired her to present that literature as a teacher. “I think that in high school, sometimes what we consider to be mandatory, or the ‘canon’ is what they call it, is not always representative of our student’s experiences and interests.” 

To be representative of all student’s experiences, the library doesn’t censor themes. As long as the book is appropriate for AHS students’ age range, it can be in the library. 

“We want to make sure that all students are represented, and in the books that they see that they see themselves in the books and that it’s inclusive of the student body,” Mrs. Will explained.

Throughout our conversation, Mrs. Will highlighted her love for young people and the interactions she has as well as observes. She finds that the most special and rewarding part of her job is building relationships. 

“It’s really special that as a librarian, I get to interact with all the students, not many people get to see that,” Mrs. Will explained. “So even if it’s at registration, checking out textbooks, you know, I see every student, and it’s something different or unique every day. And I think that the best part is being able to interact. I mean, young people are amazing. If I’m having a rough morning, I get to work and I’m greeted by one of the amazing students here, and it just changes the day. So I feel very, very lucky.” 

Though she loves the interactions she has with students as a librarian, she still gets to enjoy teaching and interacting with students in a classroom setting. As a teacher-librarian, she gets to work in the library, sit in on classes, and teach research skills.

“I’ve been able to teach research skills, which is something that I’m very passionate about too,” Mrs. Will said. Research skills are deciphering between good and bad information, misinformation, fake news, and similar topics. “So I actually have been able to teach, which is really a wonderful part of this job,”

Mrs. Will just started working at AHS this year, but already seems settled in at the school. Before working at AHS, she was the librarian at a school with kindergarten through eighth grade, then a high school librarian for about a year. In total, Mrs. Will has been a librarian for about five years. 

The biggest change Mrs. Will has seen in high school, and high schoolers is technology. She doesn’t think we should eliminate technology, but try to harness and leverage technology in a positive way.

“So I’m getting the library on social media. And TikTok has rejuvenated reading; BookTok is a huge thing. Certain books get checked out because students have seen these books featured on TikTok, which is really cool. So, when I teach about good social media habits and balance of those things, [I try] to not villainize it.” said Mrs. Will.

Mrs. Will has observed our access to information change. But she sees this as a positive improvement; it’s made life easier. 

Technology has changed the world for us, but Mrs. Will says young people are still young people.

“You’re finding your identity, making friends, losing friends, changing, your life is changing in high school, and it’s a really exciting time. And it can also be a very challenging time,” Mrs. Will said. “So I want the library to also be a place of empathy and understanding.”

Mrs. Will hopes that the library will be seen as an extension of the wellness center. 

She explained. “I want it to be a welcoming place; I don’t want students to feel like they can’t come to the library, because they’re not a library type of person, or they don’t like to read, or whatever it is. We want students to feel comfortable and safe.” 

This year, the library is teaming up with the wellness center to introduce the “Book Balance”. This is a reading community featuring a different book each month with a focus on wellness and mental health. You can attend monthly meetings in the AHS Library Media Center. Or, just pop in and say hello.

A library is a welcoming place for students to get away from the sun or noise of AHS. But, AHS as a whole should also be a pleasant place to spend time. By simply being courteous to others, you can make the high school experience more enjoyable for everyone. Mrs. Will advises students to have fun and be kind to others.

“I often witness students that seem stressed and worried,” she explains. “It’s good to take things seriously and to be disciplined but to also enjoy life, too. And have fun. Because it is true, you get older and things get a little more hectic, and there’s more responsibility. [I advise students] to have fun and to be kind to others[, that] can go a long way. ”