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Solution Seeker Spotlight: Library Team, North Thurston High School

Each month we feature staff members dedicated to being Solution Seekers in their schools. 

Five NTHS library team membersLarry Cabanatan, Steve Coker, Kim Kaiser, Jenny Kassil, and Jennifer Wolf make up the library team at North Thurston High School. They know that innovation sparks learning and eagerly jump into mastering each new tech tool that arrives on campus. Anticipating needs and providing compassionate service helps them empower students and staff to be skilled consumers and creators of information.

Tell us about yourself.

We have such a wonderful and eclectic team of people assembled here. Together, we have served 65 years with NTPS! 

Our support staff: 

  • Jennifer Wolf is our humble celebrity. Three of her published novels are in our collection, and she supports and mentors future writers in our Write Club. And she makes a killer escape room. As our full-time staff member, Jennifer makes the library a beautiful and welcoming place to be every day and keeps the wheels of the school turning.
  • Larry Cabanatan, resident gaffer, rigger, mixer, and audio-visual guru, brings his musical talents to the library, keeping our collection of guitars in tune and encouraging young musicians as they pass through. As the morning staff member on our team, Larry makes sure every computer, sound system, printer, and projector is up and running to start each day.
  • Kim Kaiser exudes kindness in everything she does. She is enthusiastic and empathetic, using her hidden talent as a data junkie to make systems work better and solve problems. She crafts, sews, and solves puzzles of all kinds. As our afternoon staff member, she keeps our records up to date and documents all the tips, tricks, and general wizardry that keeps the library and the school’s technology running.  

And our librarians:

  • Steve Coker liked North Thurston High School so much as a student, he left and came back like a boomerang. He has been instrumental in ensuring NTHS staff and students are ready for the next generation.
  • Jenny Kassil, the newest addition to the library team (but teacher with the most years served in NTPS on the team!), teaches AP Physics and Robotics in addition to being a librarian.    

What do you like best about your job?   

Jennifer Wolf helps a student at the library desk

Without exception, the thing our team likes best about this job is helping others get the information and resources they need to succeed. Whether it is helping students build technological literacy skills or access digital resources, motivating and guiding students to read a great book, troubleshooting a disobedient computer to help a teacher get things up and running, or organizing and creating digital content to help all students and staff be self-sufficient learners, we want to solve problems to help others be the best consumers and creators of information they can be. The library is a place all people go, and for all sorts of reasons. For some it is for resources and support like checking out a class book or printing an essay – we can help with that. For others it is for learning and working, whether on a computer, table, or Chromebook – we can help with that. For others still, it is for joy and connection, like finding a new book or talking with a caring listener – we can help with that. And ultimately, we like learning – learning about our students, community, and world – and helping others embrace learning, too. 

Why is being a Solution Seeker important to you?   

Kim Kaiser helps a student at the library desk

The role of the library in North Thurston Public Schools has changed dramatically in a very short time. Once, our most challenging task was cataloging and cultivating our collection of books, ensuring there were textbooks for every student and print resources ready for research. At an astonishing rate, this role of resource management morphed to include digital cataloging, desktop computers, computer labs, carts of Chromebooks, Chromebooks in every classroom, Chromebooks with every student, laptops with every teacher, and interactive flat panels in every classroom. We have gone from books to fully digital in a decade – and our district’s libraries have done it. Through it all, our heroic library team has made sure all students and staff have working technology every day. Each new technological leap includes the potential to make the world a better place or to create new barriers to access. Without hesitation or cessation, NTPS library staff have learned every tip, trick, and troubleshooting tactic for each innovation that has come their way, courageously figuring out how to make it all work for our staff and students. Innovation is a spark at the heart of education, and our library staff work tirelessly to help that spark ignite into flaming passion in the people we support. 

Can you share a story where you experienced problem-solving in action?   

Larry Cabanatan talks to a student at the library desk

This year has seen the final evolution in our technological transformation – teacher laptops, docks, and interactive flat panels. Every library team member embraced these new tools with a hunger for mastery, exploring every aspect to anticipate how teachers would use them before their arrival. With each wave of new installations, our team was ready with how-to sheets and troubleshooting tips for teachers customized to their classroom needs. Larry, Kim, and Jennifer were on call and responded to teacher needs instantly, all while still managing the daily influx of malfunctioning Chromebooks and regular checkouts. Making sure teachers knew they could get help and empowering them as users of new technology was the direct result of the problem-solving and compassionate service of these solution seekers. There’s one in every school – thank you, library teams everywhere!