Finding the right story

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When children or teenagers tell Julie Burley ’99 that they don’t like to read, she has a ready reply.

“I always tell them that just means they haven’t found the right story,” said the recently-promoted Youth Services Manager of the Stark County District Library. “I love the challenge of finding that ‘right story’ and showing them how fun and exciting reading can be. It gives me a thrill when a kid checks out a book I have suggested – even if they rejected the first 12 titles I tried.”

Burley spent 15 years in the school setting – first as a teacher, then as a school librarian – before being hired by Stark County District Library.

“One thing I remember talking a lot about it my education classes was modeling: modeling the behaviors we expect from our students, modeling for parents how to interact with their children, and modeling how to problem solve,” she said. “Even as a librarian, I am modeling those behaviors and teaching both children and their caregivers. After watching me talk to a child recently, someone who did not know I used to work in education told me that if I wasn't a librarian I should be a teacher.  I guess that shows that you can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can't take the classroom out of the teacher!”

However, Burley’s first student teaching experience went so badly that she almost dropped out of college and looked for another profession.

“If I hadn't already paid for the semester, I probably would have,” she said.

Thankfully, former Malone professor Wayne Denny stepped in.

“Once Dr. Denny heard what was happening, he pulled me from that experience and had me placed in a different classroom within two days,” she said.  

The result was life-changing, and prepared Burley well for her career.

“If Dr. Denny had not stepped in,” she said, “I doubt I would be where I am today.”