Finding ‘joy’ through reading
For Rhonda Joyner of Brewton, her love of reading became a passion early in her childhood.
“Some of the most cherished memories as a child were reading the cereal boxes at breakfast and checking out the same book over and over and over in elementary school, but my all time favorite was the Sears Wishbook that came in the mail. I would fold, and reference that catalog all year until the mailman delivered the next one.”
It didn’t take Joyner long to put her passion to work. Twenty-seven years later, and Joyner still helps students at Brewton Elementary School as the Library Media Specialist. It’s her job to teach children to love reading. In fact, she said she wants her students to have that same “favorite book” experience that she had in elementary school.
“It took me 10 years to find it but I now own a copy of that book which has a permanent place on my bedside table,” said Joyner.
“When I’m reading to children I’m truly in my element. It warms my heart when I’m reading a story and look up to see 25 little faces eagerly waiting to hear the next line.”
And those little faces are the fuel that keeps Joyner coming back to school day each day.
“Children and books are a necessity to me,” she said. “A child is the most honest individual you’ll ever meet. Not every day is easy but I guarantee with children it will never be dull.”
With her love of books, reading and children, Joyner tries to encourage students by recognizing their strengths and individuality.
“I try to see things through the eyes of my students. To them a smile, a hug or happy birthday wish makes them feel important and that I care about them personally,” she said. “I want my students to love reading to replace their fears, mistakes, and all that’s unhappy with a book and know that their joy will be restored because of it.
“With a total of 27 years between Brewton Elementary School and Pollard-McCall Junior High School, I continue to be encouraged, enlightened and energized by my students.”
Joyner said, she’s not giving up any time soon.
“I love books, and I want to share that love with all my students every day. Reading has always made me happy.
“One of my favorite teaching memories has happened numerous times over the past years exactly the same way: A student will call out to me, come give me a hug, step back and say, ‘I still remember that book you read about…’”
And we can all agree that’s a sign of a job well done.