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At home in the East Haven High School library, Juliet Goraieb is running dynamic programs that move students beyond the reference desk into real-life experiences. (Photo by Nathan Hughart/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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You might think you know what a school librarian’s job is like, but you haven’t met Juliet Goraeib. Juliet not only operates the East Haven High School (EHHS) library, but she also runs the advisory program and serves as liaison between the high school and East Haven Chamber of Commerce (EHCC).
Her library is also far from average. In addition to books, it’s armed with a green screen, 3D printer, space for woodworking and sewing, and a host of technology to help her students learn.
“The work that I do at the high school kind of falls in line perfectly with a lot of the programs that the chamber runs,” Juliet says. “The library at EHHS is a pretty busy place.”
Before coming to EHHS, Juliet taught 7th- and 8th-grade social studies in New Haven and was the librarian at Roberto Clemente School, also in New Haven.
It was in her role as social studies teacher that Juliet started on the path toward becoming a librarian. She often found herself collaborating with the library specialist. As an avid reader and as someone who likes learning new technology, she knew she had traits that would make her a great librarian. So she went back for her dual certification.
As a librarian, Juliet says she likes the opportunity to teach students of all grade levels the skills they need to learn on their own.
“I like to think of myself as a teacher-librarian,” she says.
Even though she’s no longer teaching a specific grade, Juliet now has the opportunity to co-teach classes. She typically teams up with the history and English departments to teach students about citations and plagiarism, but she also gets to teach capstone classes, a program that’s been running at the high school for four years now.
“Most of the time, these students, it’s the first time in their educational career that they’ve been able to decide what they’re going to learn about,” she says. “It’s really a self-propelled learning project.”
Capstone classes also give students an opportunity to pick up basic life skills that don’t always come with a typical high school education.
“Whenever I teach the students about capstone, I try to reiterate to them that you’re going to be adults soon. You’re going to have to redo your bathroom or fix a broken light. We have real problems that we have to work through every day,” Juliet says.
Every student works on a different project and picks up different skills along the way, but they all gain the experience of research.
“One of the things that we notice at the high school, and I think this is kind of a problem in general, is that students lack career focus because they’re underexposed,” she says.
Working with their advisors, EHHS juniors and seniors put together projects ranging from building new cubbies for the wrestling room, making homemade ravioli from scratch, and rebuilding a boat motor.
“We have a really wide variety of projects, and it is student choice,” Juliet says. “It’s so great to watch them flourish and grow and become really excited about learning.”
Juliet’s business capstone class is currently working together to reopen the Buzzstop, the school store, which will soon sell 3D printed items branded with EHHS logos. Items will be sold both in school and online.
Students are putting together everything from TV commercials to be aired on the local channel and jingles to ribbon cutting invitations and logos.
The EHCC will come out for an official ribbon cutting on Wednesday, May 1.
The EHCC got involved at EHHS when Juliet invited some members to be community member judges for the end of term capstone presentations. EHCC President Jenn Higham and others were so impressed by the students’ work that they wanted to get more involved. The EHHS/EHCC collaboration was born.
“It’s been really beneficial,” she says. “We have some chamber members who have been willing to help us pilot our internship program.”
With the EHCC on board, students at EHHS are making business connections and connections to the community all over town. They’re hearing presentations on real life problems as exciting as bank loans and establishing an EHHS art gallery at One World Roasters, a local coffee shop.
“I think that having these business connections is so imperative for the overall success of our students,” she says.
As students hear from businesspeople from all over town, they have to the chance to acquire a new hobby or even find a potential career path.
“There’s just so much great things going on and this is all within one year,” Juliet says. “It’s kind of a whirlwind of productivity…I am beyond proud of the work we’ve been able to do collaboratively.”
To nominate a Person of the Week, email Nathan Hughart at email@example.com.
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