8/15 Katherine Kier and Deanna Hamlin - Librarianship Alumnae

Deanna Hamlin and Katherine Kier, LU alumnae of the School Librarianship master’s program, recently made history in Henrico’s school's system when they were named Henrico County Public Schools Librarians of the Year.

“This is the first time in history that Henrico has created this award for its librarians, so we were very excited and proud to represent all of the librarians in the county,” Hamlin says. 

While both award recipients are on the same path in their careers now, they did not start out that way.

Hamlin began studying teaching, but quickly switched gears to business school when the teacher market was flooded in the early 1980s. Fifteen years later, and after running a home medical transcription business, Hamlin still felt the pull to teach, so she started work as an assistant to the librarian in Henrico County while she studied for her teaching license at Longwood. 

“I knew Longwood’s reputation for being one of the top teacher schools in Virginia, and I was thrilled when I heard they had a cohort in my location!” Hamlin says. “I was also raising three active teenagers at the time, and the flexibility of the class meetings, the interaction with other students, and the professionalism of the program made it clear it was the only choice for me.”  She says there is so much more to learn and,  “As the years have gone by, I have begun to love the little twinge of excitement that you get when you aren’t sure how something is going to turn out. It truly is something special when relationships are being built and when I am learning right beside my students!”

In the meantime, Kier was experiencing a different start to her career on the other side of Henrico County. She started as a substitute teacher and quickly discovered that her favorite classroom was the library.

“I loved getting to collaborate with different grades, and I could see a lot of possibilities in what the library could be in a school environment,” Kier shares. “I was moving from Alaska to Charlottesville, and Longwood’s program fits all of my needs. The location and cohort style, fantastic professors, and a great reputation — Farmville felt like home.” 

Keir says she loves the unknowns that can come with her job, “I work in a middle school, which I know is not everyone’s cup of tea. There is so much we can do with students at this age in the library. They are still so open to exploring new topics and ideas, and that makes my job so much fun because I get to grow along with them.”

Both Hamlin and Kier get excited about meeting other Longwood graduates on the road. 

“The extended network of colleagues from Longwood has enabled me to share and borrow so many ideas for my own program and has made me a better librarian as a whole,” Kier says. 

Hamlin says that the program helped her be a better librarian and that she discovered lifelong friends in her cohort and with the faculty, “They will always have a special place in my heart.”