In celebration of National Library Week and School Library Month, The Warren Record Newspaper In Education Literacy Program salutes local school libraries and media specialists. This year’s theme is, Lives Change @ Your Library.  

Jeff Kinney, New York Times bestselling author of “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series, is the national spokesman for School Library Month.

“I don’t know where I’d be without my school library,” said Kinney. “Our librarians were passionate about putting great books in the hands of kids, and making us into lifelong readers. School libraries introduce kids to whole new worlds and new perspectives and are so important in broadening kids’ minds.”

Warren New Tech High School

Donna Rivera is married and the mother of four children. Two sons serve in the military, one in the Air Force like her husband who is retired, and one in the Army. Her other son is employed full-time, and her daughter is currently a college student.

She was raised in upstate New York in a town of about 13,000 people where everyone knew everyone.

She enjoys working with students and focuses on connecting them to the real world. Her favorite part of working with students is seeing their “aha” moments.

To Rivera literacy is extremely important to develop better global citizens.

Fun facts

Favorite book: anything educational

Favorite movie: “Pride and Prejudice”

Favorite song: Anything from the ‘50s

Favorite childhood teacher: Mrs. Borghard

South Warren Elementary School

Mary Mach was born in southern Illinois, but raised in a small college town, Houghton, similar to Warrenton, in upper Michigan. She is the mother of two children, a daughter who is 20 and son who is 16.  

Mach’s favorite part of working with students is getting to know them as young people and watching their excitement when they learn something they were struggling with or they like. Her goal is to help students love reading by finding books that appeal to them and show them they can use books to learn about the world around them and find adventure in fictional worlds.

Literacy is important to her because it is a life skill students need to learn.  

Fun Facts

Hobbies: gardening, cooking, reading, gaming

Favorite book: Dan Brown books

Favorite movie: too many good movies to pick just one

Favorite song: classic rock songs

Favorite childhood teacher: Ms. MacClean

Vaughan Elementary School

Trina Paynter was born and raised in Warren County in the Ridgeway community. Her mom and dad instilled the value of hard work in each of their 11 children.

She has been married to James Paynter for 13 years, and they have two children, Josiah, 10, and Anna Grace, soon to be 3.

She wants every student who comes to Vaughan to learn to love a book and find one that speaks to them, and to create a culture of reading for their future.

Her favorite part of working with students is hearing how much they enjoy a book. She hopes that other children will hear it and read that book, too.

The school library and literacy are important to Paynter because she believes there is no field or job that doesn’t require at least some reading. She wants her students to learn to enjoy what they read so they will want to read more and push forward to reach their best for themselves.

Fun facts

Hobbies: singing, leading praise and worship at her church, New Life Baptist

Favorite book: doesn’t have a favorite, reads varying types of books for different times, from her Bible, to “Kisses from Katie” by Katie Davis and “Where the Red Fern Grows”

Favorite movie: toss up between “Facing the Giants” and “Pride and Prejudice”

Favorite song: three favorites are “God’s Not Dead” by the Newsboys, “Overcomer” by Maneissa and “At the Cross” by Hillsong

Favorite childhood teacher: Mrs. Blankenship from North Warren Elementary School.

Warren County Middle School

Gwendolyn White, who is retiring in June, has worked for the last 30 years with students in activities such as storytelling, Battle of the Books and the science, technology, engineering and math program. These programs gave her the chance to celebrate individual and collective growth of students academically, emotionally and socially. Seeing students engaged and growing has been rewarding.

For White, school libraries have an important role in teaching, and they are leading the way for technology use in schools. Reading is a crucial skill needed for students to be productive members of society, and students build self-esteem and creativity through reading.

She hopes the school continues to increase reading proficiency at all grade levels as reading is promoted through Battle of the Books, and for students to apply responsible behaviors when using information technology resources.

White was born in Louisburg, the only child of the late John D. and Susie Burrell Clifton. It was her mother who taught her the value of independence and importance of education and reading.

White and her husband, Joseph, have one son Jabari, who is a graduate of Elizabeth City State University and employed by Kittrell Job Corps.

Fun Facts

Hobbies: reading, mobile gaming, word search puzzles

Favorite book: too many to name after the Bible

Favorite movie: “Imitation to Life” and

“The Great Debaters”

Favorite song: too many to name, but for the past year, “This is My Season” by William Murphy

Favorite childhood teacher: first-grade,

Mrs. Gerald Y. Sargent

Warren County High School

Yvonne Alston is one of nine siblings, raised in Warren County. Her parents believed in education and made sure their children graduated from high school and attended a post secondary institute if that was their plan.

Alston and her husband, J. Milo, have two daughters, Mila, a junior at Warren County High School, and Lucia, an eighth-grader at Warren County Middle School.

She enjoys working individually with students and sharing in their learning experiences. A plan for the library is to expand the e-book and technology collection to help meet the academic needs of students for research and presentations, and encouraging the use of technology for leisure reading as well.

A school library, according to Alston, is the heart of the school and provides a variety of essential resources for reading and technology. She believes that the more you read, the more you succeed.

Fun facts

Hobbies: cooking

Favorite book: “Monster” by Walter Dean Myers

Favorite movie: “An Officer and a Gentleman”

Favorite song: “Loving You” by Minnie Riperton

Favorite childhood teacher: Rosiland Gilliam

Mariam Boyd Elementary School

Sheila Scott was born and raised in Pittsfield, a city in the rural part of western Massachusetts. She went to college in Boston, Mass., at Wheelock College.

Scott and her husband, Robert, have one son, Cade, who is in sixth grade.

She enjoys getting to see every student in the school once a week. Her goal is to inspire students to develop a love for reading, a skill that is used throughout a lifetime.

Fun facts

Hobbies: cooking, reading, walking, bicycling

and swimming

Favorite book: “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silversten

Favorite movie: “The Quiet Man.” She got to see the town in Ireland where the movie was filmed.

Favorite childhood teacher: First-grade teacher Mrs. Nugai, because she had a special ability to see the strengths in all her students. She was special because she was different from anyone she had met.

Northside Elementary School

Anita L. Williams’ favorite part of working with students is when they are asked to share their experiences about a subject, and they respond with immeasurable enthusiasm, and when their eyes light up after making a learning discovery.

Williams hopes to plan and implement a reading/writing/theater club for her students designed to help them sharpen their basic skills and allow them to be creative in a way that will serve them academically.

A new Warren County resident, having moved here from Chicago, Ill., in July 2013, Williams was raised in the metropolitan Detroit, Mich., area. Her childhood included hours of watching television and reading lots of books.

An only child, she made up for the absence of siblings by making up and acting out stories and developing close friendships, many of which are still in existence despite geographical distance.

Williams believes libraries and literacy education are important because students who read often and read well have the ability to master any subject put before them. While it may never be required that a student know everything, it is essential that they know how to find the answer to anything, she said.  As an educator in the library, she feels it is her responsibility and honor to assist students.

Williams is the mother of two children and grandmother of five, Caila, Carmin, Caidybella, Cruz and Candice, who live in the Detroit area.

Fun Facts

Hobbies: Archiving, specializing in family photo

collections; writing and reciting as a member

of the Warren Artists’ Market

Favorite book: “To Kill a Mockingbird”

Favorite movie: “A Raisin in the Sun”

Favorite song: changes frequently; at this moment, “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan and “Wake Me Up” by Aloe Blacc.

Favorite childhood teacher: Miss Canty, the librarian at Mokersky Elementary School, She was encouraging and bragged about Williams’ reading mastery and tried

to challenge her to greater heights.