By Beccy Tanner
After being involved in education for nearly 30 years as both a teacher and principal, Jo McFadden decided to take a new direction in her life.
“I retired and this is my retirement gig,” McFadden said. “I was looking for a job. This came up on my radar and I thought it sounded like fun.
“I applied and here I am.”
Since August, the 55-year-old McFadden has served as the director of the Ida Long Goodman Memorial Library in St. John.
She replaced Laura Davis as the director.
McFadden has been a life-long resident of Hutchinson and continues to live there with about a 50-minute commute back and forth each school day.
“I was going to pull my (retirement) papers because I had 85 points and could retire. But this (the St. John library position) is a KPERS job. So, I didn’t officially retire because I didn’t pull KPERS. I did retire from being a principal and decided I would keep on working.”
She taught middle school algebra and geometry for 11 years and was an elementary principal in Hutchinson for eight years; and then, principal at Inman Elementary in Inman for eight years.
“I have my master’s in administration and have taught college classes through Baker University and Newman University. I have presented at national conferences on a number of different topics … My areas of interest and skill include professional learning, curriculum, instruction and assessment and school improvement.”
Her hopes for the Ida Long Goodman Library are to increase programming, circulation, and services available to the community.
“We have two exciting things that are in the works right now that I think will be wonderful for our community,” McFadden said.
The first is a Digi Lab – where the library has installed a digital scanner so that patrons of the library can scan old photographs, negatives and slides – and save them digitally. It will evolve into a full Digi Lab where clients can bring in their DVD’s or VHS tapes and can digitize those, as well.
“Think of those little camcorder tapes – all kinds of things – that can now be digitized,” McFadden said. “So, we don’t lose those things that are so important. I know I have a ton of tapes from when my kids were little stored away. I can’t view them on anything. So, once we get those things in, the staff will be practicing on them and then, the community can come in and get their things transferred.”
Another program the library has just established is a premium family membership to Exploration Place in Wichita. The pass is free for area families to come and check out and then use for their entire family.
“So, they can go to Wichita and go to Exploration Place; go to the Dome Theater and see the science show and check out traveling displays,” she said.
She has also started an adult book club and scheduled a series of Lunch & Learns at the library in partnership with Stafford County Economic Development. Topics have included information for first time home buyers; Stafford County’s Exoduster legacy; services offered by the Stafford County Health Department; and Estate Planning.
As the director of St. John’s library, McFadden said her new position is – in some ways – like that of being a principal with all the administrative duties.
“There is the budgeting, staffing and just all the paperwork and programming,” she said.
In addition, she said there is one more added benefit:
“I will say I have always loved to read and just being among all these books has been amazing.
“I just can’t get enough.”