Savannah Sessions – One Hundred Years of Connection

January 10, 2017

Faculty Spotlight:
Teaching Librarian Savannah Sessions

I am at Gould because I feel connected here.

Over the past five years, I have done a number of different jobs at Gould and not just in the typical boarding school sense. I’ve worked in College Counseling, I’ve covered maternity leave as a classroom teacher, and for the past two years I have had the honor of serving as Gould’s teaching librarian. In each of these roles I worked closely with a number of people – mentors, colleagues, students, advisees – who show me, time and time again, that Gould is one of the most supportive, welcoming, and loving communities in which anybody could hope to live and work. I am connected to this community.

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Building connections in the classroom.

But my connection doesn’t start in the summer of 2012 when I first joined this community. You see, just before I started working here, my grandmother passed away. She was a huge part of my life and one of my heroes.

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My dad, myself, and Meme at my graduation from Smith in 2008

My grandmother, Maxine, was orphaned at 9 years old when both of her parents died of tuberculosis. Meme survived TB, but had to live in a sanitorium for a while and had long lasting health problems as a result. She eventually went to live with her grandmother Sadie and uncle Clyde. Sadie was not a kind, loving grandmother like I tend to imagine. She was stern and old fashioned (she was born in 1877!). But uncle Clyde was the opposite. He took my grandmother fishing and hiking. They read books and talked. He built her up and gave her the love of a parent. I mention this story for two reasons – one, because it shows the grit of Maxine and provides an example of just some of the adversarial challenges she faced in her life. But I also share this story because uncle Clyde William Lapham was in the Gould Academy class of 1913. My first graduating class at Gould? 2013. 100 years of time had passed, yet learning this made my connection to Gould grow stronger.

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I received this from my grandmother’s things a couple weeks after I started working here. I didn’t even know he went to Gould until that moment

My grandmother was inquisitive, thoughtful, and kind. She also constantly challenged the status quo, even if it was just to herself. She loved to think about philosophy and religion – and she would read books and visit various worship places or try a different practice to see what it was like. Once she had thoroughly researched all facets, she would put together her own doctrine comprised of the elements that spoke to her from each.

I know what you’re thinking – this sounds like a research project! And you’d be right. Maxine loved research. Maxine was a librarian too.

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Maxine and one of her colleagues in the Oxford Hills High School Library somewhere around 1965

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Trying to look librarian-y

It took a couple of years for me to come into this role as librarian, but each day, when I go to work, I get to feel connected to my grandmother and that is really special.

I am at Gould because I am connected through family, both given and chosen.


Savannah Sessions Q & A

High School: Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School

College/Grad School:
Smith College/University of Washington (MLIS in progress!)

Proudest Achievement:
I baked a baguette this summer and Martha Whittington told me it was pretty good!

Last book I read: Prisoners of Geography

My soundtrack is: Dawes. All Dawes-y, all the time right now.

Movie I would recommend: I’m not much of a movie buff. Probably the Princess Bride.

Favorite food:
I’ve been known to eat several dozen Jonah crabs in one sitting. Or basically anything I ate in China.

One word that describes me: Loquacious (see below).

Best advice I ever received:
My 11th/12th grade History teacher told me: Always be an amateur. In Latin, amateur means “to love”. If you’re an amateur, you do it for love, so in all things I hope to remain an amateur.

Why Gould? Why not?

What’s the last thing you crossed off your bucket list?
I actually resist the idea of the bucket list. If I do or want to do something awesome, why would I want to cross it off and never do it again? I like to think of it more as building a life resume/CV. I build it up with experiences, and sometimes I repeat experiences that I really love. Lately I’ve been working on my Maine Resume especially. I can really get into fine tuning the Maine Resume as well – for example, last October I hiked Katahdin and it had snowed several inches the night before. So I’ve hiked a snowy Katahdin and saw Baxter in all her Snowliage (I’m pretty sure I made up that word) glory. Next time I hike Katahdin, it could be a sunrise hike, or a completely socked in and gray hike. Yes, I’ve hiked The Greatest Mountain, but that doesn’t mean I want to cross it off any list.

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