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A legacy of learning: 'Librarian' retires

Jane Dejno is just fine with the title "librarian" -- after all, she has been one for over 25 years, the last 15 at E.P. Rock Elementary School.

Dejno, a native of southeast Wisconsin, grew up in Madison but chose a small private college in Michigan to major in music.

"Studying music at the college level took the fun out of it for me," said Dejno. After taking a class in library science she transferred to Western Michigan State, graduating with a major in elementary education and minors in music and library science.

Dejno started her career teaching second through sixth grade. She ended up in Arizona and landed a job as the director of a college library. During that seven-year period she took 12 credits each summer back in Milwaukee to complete her master's degree in library science. In 1989 her family moved back to the Midwest, and in 1992 they moved to Hudson so her daughter, Amy, age 12 at the time, could pursue training as a competitive figure skater in the Twin Cities. The same year she started at E.P. Rock as the school librarian.

"It's not the library science that keeps me going, it's the kids," said Dejno, who is certified to teach K-12. "Even though I was director of a college library I wanted to work with kids."

When Dejno reflects on pivotal moments in her career there is no hesitation as she names one.

"Harry Potter started a whole revolution in kids wanting to read," said Dejno. "It renewed interest in reading -- it was a landmark book." Even the youngest kids struggled through reading it, according to Dejno.

"Technology has totally changed how we access information, look at the world and disseminate information," said Dejno. "As a librarian and teacher helping the students learn where to look, how to access and find relevant information and then turn into a form they can use is part of the job.

"Every year the kids come in knowing more and more," said Dejno. "At the same time, you foster the love of reading good books by good authors. Integration of technology with reading is the key. That's how students remember things."

An example of that integration would be how Dejno uses her laptop computer paired with the Smart Board to make reading books an interactive experience for the students.

"With the Smart Board I can bring up a photo of the author," said Dejno. "The kids can participate, and it helps them remember."

"You still need all the same skills as before," said Dejno, who is just fine with being called a librarian instead of the contemporary term, media specialist.

"The library is open all of the time to students," said Dejno, a change from when students were not allowed in the library unless it was their classrooms time to visit. "It is not necessarily a quiet place anymore. This way you are always teaching something." Flexible scheduling means the teachers and Dejno can collaborate on projects.

"In books nowadays the illustrations have a wow factor," said Dejno. "But a good story is still a good story."

As for retirement, Dejno will be a grandmother in June, she intends to volunteer, go back to playing piano and flute, and to write. Her husband has a few years left before he can retire so she plans to do "whatever she wants" being free with her daily schedule.

"I don't have a lot of plans but lots of ideas. I plan to be fully engaged with life."