ARMONK, N.Y.- Mary Johnson knows her community is so driven to succeed, but the librarian knows it is important for local kids to have a low-pressure environment to be able to learn, write and have fun.
Thats why Johnson, who works at the North Castle Public Library, runs a series of free writing/crafting programs where young people can stop by and enjoy themselves without feeling school-like pressure.
If youre going to play with words, be creative and enjoy what youre doing, you have to get out of the grading mindset, Johnson said. Theres a lot of pressure in this community and one of the things I want to do for the kids is give them a place to explore without pressure.
Ashley Wells, a sophomore at Purchase College and one of Johnsons participants, said she enjoys the program because its a change of pace from everyday life.
It gives me a chance to do things I normally cant at home or with friends, Wells said. I get to meet new people, which is always fun, and Mary always has fun things in store for her teens or young adults.
In the past, Johnson led a creative writing workshop at the library and she said shed love to bring it back.
What was neat about the creative writing club when I was running it was that kids had their own ideas of games they wanted to play and there was no sort of assignment, Johnson said. It was really just a matter of kids having fun with words, which is really what I want to push.
She knows that some people might question her expertise as a writer or that shes not a teacher, which goes back to her point that her programs are not intended to be like school.
Some people might say that she's not an English teacher so what gives her the authority to do this? "But I think the authority is precisely that Im not an English teacher," she said. "I have a couple of masters degrees that are required for being a professional librarian, and Ive done an awful lot of writing in school and in grad school, and also for fun. I think that gives me the knowledge to encourage the kids, so thats really all Im here for.
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