Eisenhower librarian Maren Vitali came up with a clever idea

Eisenhower librarian Maren Vitali came up with a clever idea

Maren Vitali is quite clever.

That may explain why she is referred to as “The Clever Librarian”  around the hallways at the Eisenhower Intermediate School.

Ms. Vitali, in her role as the school’s Library Media Specialist, set out to bring in a speaker to address writing to the students at Eisenhower.

“I was looking for someone who would capture the kid's attention as well as share their writing process to encourage and inspire future writers,” she revealed.

So she was clever enough to pick who she should contact.

“I'm good friends with Judy Freeman, a former Van Holten Primary School librarian who inspired me to become a librarian many years ago when I worked as a second-grade teacher at Van Holten,” Ms. Vitali explained. “In the world of librarians, she is very well known, working for BER (Bureau of Education and Research) and presenting her WINNERS workshop for many years in New Jersey.”

Ms.Vitali then cashed in.
“She and I have remained friends over the years and when I mentioned I was looking for an author she recommended  Candace Fleming.  They are good friends having both been speakers at various library conferences over the years and running in many of the same literary circles. Judy mentioned she had seen Candace Fleming speak to children in the past and Candace had the student's attention "in the palm of her hands."

Ms. Fleming is the renowned author of more than 20 books—fiction and non-fiction—and has achieved awards for her biographies, picture books, middle-grade novels, and teen novels for young readers.

“On Judy's recommendation, I reached out to Candace's publicist as well as the other librarians in the district to try and coordinate a visit.  Van Holten, Hamilton Primary School, and Hillside Intermediate School all expressed an interest, and the rest, as they say, is history,” Ms. Vitali said.

The famed author spoke and made an impact at the four schools in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District during the week of March 25.

“I have been in the district for 27 years-the first nine as a classroom teacher and the last 18 as a librarian. I have witnessed many author visits and planned many of my own in the course of my jobs here in Bridgewater-Raritan," Ms. Vitali stated. "I have to say Candace Fleming's presentations were probably one of the best I've ever seen.  She was such a good sport- willing to stand and greet the kids in the morning with me to go along with my daily #cleverlibrarianwithasign message, as well as joining me on the morning announcements over the PA system to announce the winning March Madness Book.”

As expected by Ms. Vitali, Ms. Fleming delivered resourceful sessions.

“Her two presentations were phenomenal and she held the kids' attention the entire time.  There truly was something magical about the way she talked to the kids and got their attention.  They were hanging on to her every word.  The writing workshop was amazing and the kids were so disappointed when the bell rang signaling the end of the period.  Many kids hung back wanting to share their writing and just talk to her.  Her personality is truly magnetic.  It sounds crazy to say but I want to be just like her when I grow up!”

Dr.. Laura Bassett, the Eisenhower Principal, was quite moved by the visit from Ms. Fleming.

“Candace Fleming was amazing - she brought her enthusiasm and passion for writing and storytelling to our school and inspired us all,” Dr. Bassess reported.  “During the assemblies, Candace shared stories of the inspiration behind some of her books and the enthralling and all-consuming process she goes through to research her subject matter. She inspired our students to believe that they have the capacity to tell new and important stories that the world needs to read - that they can tell new and important stories that the world needs to read - and reminded us that stories and books can change the world, one reader at a time.”

Principal Bassett continued.

“She led an engaging writer's workshop with some of our 6th-grade students, where they put her strategies to work to develop their unique voices. On top of all of this, she spent her lunchtime eating and chatting with our teachers, and she signed dozens of books for students to enjoy in our library for years to come!”

And let us not forget the clever Eisenhower staff member who set this all up.

“I am SO GRATEFUL to Maren Vitali for organizing Candace Fleming's visit to the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District,” Dr. Bassett said. “She orchestrated the entire thing, including coordinating with the librarians at Hillside, Van Holten, and  Hamilton. She ran her annual book "March Madness" using all Candace Fleming books so that we were prepared to know many of her books before her visit, and she helped organize the purchase of Candace Fleming books for our students.”

Principal Bassett concluded about her cherished Eisenhower staff member.

“Mrs. Vitali is an amazing librarian - she believes so strongly in the power of books and stories and the importance of books and stories in our student's lives”

“ We are so lucky to have our Clever Librarian at Eisenhower!”