Tuesday, April 2, 2013

FEATURED SWEETHEART: Debbie Carroll VanZandt

Hi!  It's Jessica Lee Anderson and I'm giddy to announce that our newest Featured Sweetheart is Debbie Carroll VanZandt!  As soon as I met Debbie at a conference, I knew that I found a kindred spirit.  

Picture of me and Debbie at the Austin Teen Book Festival in 2012

Thanks for joining us, Debbie!
TxS&S: Can you share with us what you do and what or who keeps you inspired?
Debbie:  I am the librarian and Academic Decathlon coach at Tuloso-Midway High School in Corpus Christi. Apart from all of the book-related stuff (checking-in/-out, ordering, processing, repairing, etc.), I teach research skills and internet safety and am a first-line technology troubleshooter.

I get inspiration from so many people. I am blessed to be a part of a loving and supportive family. My parents have always supported me in everything, and I hope that I am passing that on to my girls. My husband is the one who pushed me to go to library school online through Texas Woman’s University in Denton (where I had a class taught by Jeanette Larson!). He knew that it had always been a dream of mine, but I hesitated. I’m so happy that I let him talk me into it! Wanting to be a good example for my girls is also something that drives me.

I am inspired by the students with whom I work. The students at my school are some of the greatest anywhere. I have always enjoyed working with high school-aged kids, and these are the best I’ve ever seen. The staff at my school is fantastic as well. I can honestly say that I enjoy going to work every morning and being surrounded by these people. I consider myself very lucky!

Debbie with her family, Heath, Heather, Amanda, at Central Park in New York in 2010

TxS&S: What were your goals when you first started working with kids and books, and how has that vision changed over time?
Debbie:  When I first started working with teens and books, I just wanted to be the librarian who turned teens on to books. Over the years, I still have that goal (and I LOVE it when it happens!), but now it is so much more than that. I do still want to be that librarian, but I also want to be the one with the cool stuff that draws kids, both readers and non-readers into the library during the day. In addition to that, I want my students to know that when you need information, you can get it from the library. I’ve fielded questions from “Where can I find this book?” to “How can I attach a file to my email.” I believe that as librarians, we should never stop with an answer of “I don’t know.” The answer should be “I don’t know right now, but let’s find out.”

 Kids reading in Debbie's library

TxS&S: What are some things in the world of books for kids and teens you're excited about?
Debbie:  One of the things I’m most excited about right now is planning for a Teen Book Festival to happen in Corpus Christi. I took students to the Austin Teen Book Festival in October, and got really inspired. I’ve talked to other school and public librarians in our area, and I think we have the group in place to make it happen! Teen Book Fest by the Bay is something I’ve been dreaming about for a couple of years, but it’s looking more and more like a reality. Who knows where it might go! I know that I am excited and so are my students.

Students who went with Debbie to the Austin Teen Book Festival

TxS&S: If you could make a wish for teens and reading in the future, what would it be?
Debbie: Hhhmmmmm. My wish for teens and reading would, of course, be that more teens would find their reading niche and READ! My favorite times in the library happen when a student says, “Hey, I didn’t know there were books about (insert topic here). Are there any more?” I am a firm believer in the idea that there is at least one book for everyone and probably many. I consider it a personal quest to find THAT book for THAT student.

Debbie's students couldn’t wait to start reading their books!
TxS&S: Do you consider yourself a Sweetheart or Scoundrel? 
Debbie: Is there a category for Scoundheart or Sweetdrel?? I think I am mostly a Sweetheart, but I’m pretty sure that I DO have a Scoundrel buried inside (just ask my family…).
TxS&S: We think you're a total sweetheart, Debbie!  Thank you again for joining us and for making such a difference!



I am married to my high school sweetheart, Heath, and we have two daughters, Heather, a college student, and Amanda, a senior in high school. We have two spoiled dogs, a mutt named Lily and a Sheltie named Robin Hood. I love to read almost anything and am a member of two book clubs. We like to travel, and we have recently begun geocaching as a family. We enjoy spending time together on these mini treasure hunts, and all of us have found at least one.

After teaching high school English for 3 years in Alice, I became a stay-at-home mom when our older daughter was born. For most of the next 16 years, I was a PTA mom and professional volunteer. I started working on my Masters in Library Science. In 2007, I was lucky enough to land a library job at Tuloso-Midway High School in Corpus Christi, where I still am. I co-coach the Academic Decathlon team and serve on the Site-Based Decision Making team at my school. For TLA, I am a member of the Spirit of Texas High School program until April when I will move to the Maverick Reading List committee. I also teach a Sunday School class at Calallen Baptist Church.


If you know of someone who would make a great Featured Sweetheart, please let us know! The best part? If you nominate someone, we'll send you a $5 Starbucks gift card :)


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