Reading, Teaching, Learning

Sunday, April 20, 2014

If Not For Franki


     Mary Lee Hahn is hosting a fantastic link-up to celebrate Franki Sibberson's 50th birthday (first of all, HOW can she be 50?!  She makes 50 the new 35!)  What a great idea, Mary Lee, and after reading other tributes to her, you realize what a force she is in the field of literacy education.  

     I first attended a Franki workshop at a Lakota Literacy or Dublin Literacy conference many years ago.  I had read Still Learning to Read and Beyond Leveled Books, and I was excited to meet the author of these great books.  Attending a workshop led by Franki is a tornado of information.  She has so many ideas and so much knowledge.  The word that comes to mind when Franki is involved is THINKING. It's her mantra.  I was mesmerized by her energy.  That conference was the first I ever heard of Goodreads and Mr. Schu.  It was a pivotal point in my career and reading life.  I stopped her at one point in the conference to nervously ask her to sign my book.  I felt like I was asking a rock star for her autograph.  She was so friendly and graciously stopped to indulge me.

     Fast forward several years.  I had been on Twitter for a while (because of Franki) and participated in some chats in which Franki contributed.  She had responded to me a couple times - ME - I was so excited.  At a Dublin Literacy Conference, I conjured up the nerve to walk up to her and introduce myself.  She smiled broadly, exclaimed, "Holly!" and gave me hug.  WHAT?!  Franki Sibberson knew my name and hugged me?!  Unbelievable.  I felt like I had entered hallowed territory.  It was so exciting.  Since then, I've asked her for advice over writing a book, contributing to Choice Literacy, writing proposals for presentations, and asked teaching questions.  She ALWAYS responds with grace, wisdom, and encouragement.

     At the NCTE Annual Convention in November, I felt like the luckiest person in the world.  I was seated next to Donalyn Miller and across from Franki Sibberson and Jen Vincent at a Choice Literacy dinner.  How did that happen?!  We laughed and laughed at that table.  That's what is so wonderful about Franki.  She's so respected and valued in the eduation world, but she is so funny and so real at the same time.  I felt like I had hit the jackpot that night.

     So thank you, Franki, for your gracious spirit and encouraging heart, your wisdom and knowledge, and your honesty and humor.  If not for you, I know I wouldn't be as passionate about teaching.  You've changed the course of my career, and I will always be thankful for that.  I hope I have many opportunities to get to know you better.  Happy birthday!