Grace Schultz reads to children who came to a community gardening opening in Sharon. Contributed photo.

Grace Schultz reads to children who came to a community gardening opening in Sharon. Contributed photo.

Grace Schultz is studying to be a middle school teacher, but the Brookfield High School graduate and Slippery Rock University sophomore didn’t have any experience standing in front of a crowd of kids and trying to keep their attention.

She got a taste of what that is like during a summer internship with the Community Library of the Shenango Valley.

“It kind of went perfectly with what I wanted to do,” Schultz said.

“She helped us with our big summer reading program, prepping ahead of time and then doing the whole program throughout the course of the summer, then helping kind of wind it down and getting ready for the back to school time,” said Vikkie Mastroberte, the library’s children’s programming coordinator.

Schultz’s responsibilities included planning activities and craft projects, setting them up and running them. She also did regular library tasks, such as placing books in the stacks.

“It took her a little while to get her sea legs and get used to talking over a large crowd of kids, but once she did, she just took off with it, and they had a lot of fun with her and they really enjoyed hanging out with Miss Grace and learning new things with her,” Mastroberte said

Grace Schultz. Contributed photo.

Grace Schultz. Contributed photo.

Schultz ran programs at the library’s Sharon and Farrell locations – including teen programs – but also visited preschools to read to the kids; followed the Community Food Warehouse’s Myron’s Meal food bus to Musser Elementary School in Sharon once a week to read to kids who came for free meals, and hand out coloring pages; and read to kids at a community garden in Sharon.

“She ran most of our outreach programming,” Mastroberte said.

“I’d never really had a lot of experience with the young ones,” outside of babysitting, Schultz said. “I really did enjoy reading to them. They’re so fun and enjoyable all the time.”

From the experience, Schultz got, “A lot of leadership and figuring things out on my own, like, planning,” she said. “I realize I can be a good leader, a role model to them.”

Schultz said she feels better about her goal of becoming a teacher.

“It’s so hard, when you’re young, deciding what you want to do,” she said. “I feel like there was always something in me that knew I wanted to be a teacher, and this really brought it to life and seeing what it could be, helping kids out.”

Schultz said she liked the atmosphere at the library.

“I really did enjoy everyone I worked with and all the kids there and events,” she said. “The family environment was really nice.”

There could be opportunities for Schultz to come back to the library in some capacity, Mastroberte said.

“We enjoyed having her here,” Mastroberte said. “She was very helpful to us, kept quiet to herself, but did all the work she was asked. She never complained about anything, which was really nice. We got lots of stuff done, and we had a blast. Take her back anytime.”