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Our Town: Kat Dressman puts the fun in fundamental reading

Locations: News Published

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity

Q: Where are you from?

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A: I grew up in a lot of different places, but I was born in Plano, Texas, and I lived there for about eight years. Then I lived in Colorado for a little bit before we moved to Kentucky, which is where I went to middle school and high school.

Q: When did you move to Carbondale and why?

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A: Initially I went to school to become a teacher. I was that really nerdy kid who was obsessed with education since sixth grade. When I was moving around there wasn’t a standardized education in each state, and I learned the same level of math three times and that was really frustrating for me. 

I noticed there was an ESL gap in Lexington, Kentucky, specifically for Asian-Americans learning English. I was like, “Okay! I’m gonna fill that gap. I’m gonna be that ESL teacher and get my elementary education degree.” So, I go and get my elementary degree, and now I’m thinking that in order to become this superhuman I need to go teach in Japan. I went and taught for two years, and when I was there I met probably one of the best people that I have ever met in my life. She was the school librarian at the base school I taught at, and she had a connection with the students and with the school that really inspired me to become a librarian.

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So I came back to America, lived in Missouri for a hot second, found this position and came back to Colorado! Carbondale is exactly what I have been looking for.

Q: What was it like teaching in Japan?

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A: It was amazing! I taught at five high schools out in the boonies. My base school was for kids with emotional and behavioral disabilities and also international students that didn’t have the level of Japanese that was required for academic high school. I also taught at a K-12 deaf school. 

It was cool that no matter where I went, the kids were the same. They were incredible kids. They were passionate, funny — and I still keep up with a lot of them today.

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Q: Tell us about your new role as the Carbondale Library youth coordinator.

A: I have been here since December. Getting to be here in Carbondale while the library opens back up to programming has been fun. My manager is super supportive, and she’s like, “‘Do anything you want… within reason.” [Laughs]

I have been doing storytime [every Thursday at 10:30 a.m.], a couple of teen programs, Manga Club, after-school programming, we did writing club and right now we’re gearing up for the summer reading program.

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It’s also part of my job to foster partnerships with organizations like the Aspen Science Center. We just started Club de Bolsitas Rojas, which is the Little Red Bag program from Raising a Reader, and they’ve started their Spanish storytimes here on Fridays at 10:30, and that’s been really fun!

Q: That’s a huge role! What projects do you hope to tackle as youth coordinator?

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A: One goal I’m working toward this year is getting teens more involved in the library. Most libraries really struggle to bring teens into the library, but what’s good about Carbondale is that we have a really active community.

Another goal is developing a good collection for little, little kids. When I came to this library, I noticed that a lot of the beginning reading independent books are heavily weighted toward first grade kids, and not as well-catered to littler kids. So the collection development goal is to get more materials for those kids just learning to read.

Q: What are you reading right now?

A: I’m finishing up “Under the Whispering Door” by TJ Kloone right now, but I don’t want to finish it because it’s getting really intense! I also recently went to a professional conference in Portland, Oregon, and I had to go to the Japanese garden, because of course, and they had a book on Japanese Zen Monk Death Poetry; so I’ve been reading through these poems that these Zen Monks wrote hundreds of years ago.

Q: What are some of your interests and hobbies?

A: I love singing and music theory. I do photography, and I also really enjoy cooking. I also really like snowboarding, which I started doing in Japan.

Q: So, I heard a rumor that some students will deliver you cupcakes. What is your favorite flavor?

A: Oh man, that’s so hard. You know, I’m a big fan of red velvet and it’s purely for the cream cheese icing. You could put cream cheese icing on a hot dog and I’d be like, “Wow! What a great cupcake.” [Laughs]

Tags: #Carbondale Library #Japan #Kat Dressman #literacy #Our Town
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