The word from Llewellyn Elementary School -- a beloved librarian retires this month

RITA A. LEONARD - Llewellyn School Librarian Cheryl McDonald retires this month after 20 years service in the Portland Public Schools - fifteen of them at Llewellyn. Cheryl McDonald, long a fixture in the library at Llewellyn Elementary School in Westmoreland, is retiring after twenty years in the Portland School District – five years at Sunnyside School, and fifteen years at Llewellyn. She tells THE BEE she worked alone for most of those years, but she has been assisted by half-time Librarian Susan Robertson for the past two years.

McDonald has been teaching both library and computer technology skills to help students develop a love of reading. "She's very supportive of both teachers and students," smiles third grade teacher Caroline Coholen; "She's been a touchstone for reading for every kid here over the years. If anyone wants to leave a [farewell] note for her, come to the Llewellyn School office and fill out a memory postcard."

"I ran book fairs at my kids' schools for many years," recalls McDonald. "I fell into this job as a volunteer, years ago; but I've also taken many Library classes and have a BA in English. I've also done fund-raising for the Children's Book Bank, and outside of school I volunteer with groups involved in refugee resettlement."

In addition to her regular job, McDonald has spent twelve years developing an after-school book club for fourth and fifth graders. "The Club is held at Llewellyn," she explains, "but I work closely with Brianne Williams at the Sellwood-Moreland Branch Library to build interest, with book talks about our favorite mid-grade books. This can help students develop the research and independent-thinking skills needed in Middle School."

Sellwood Library's Williams tells THE BEE of McDonald, "She's really knowledgeable, and she's on top of the field of children's literature."

McDonald also teaches an after-school sewing class for third graders and older students. Those in this class are taught how to read a pattern and use a sewing machine, as well as how to iron and how to sew notions. They can then choose to make a skirt, apron, or pajama pants, and they leave the class with a basic sewing kit and reusable fabric bag. She points out that sewing skills are not only useful for clothing repair and design, but they can lead students on to further artistic development.

As she leaves the school in early June, Llewellyn's longtime Librarian already has plans for her retirement. "I'm planning a Fall vacation to Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, and the beautiful Adriatic coast," she says with a smile. "I'll make contact with relatives back there, and will visit my grandparents' village. Back home, I plan to volunteer at my grandkids' school, and I'll do some hiking, sewing, and gardening." From conversations around the school it's clear that McDonald will be sorely missed at Llewellyn Elementary School, but she has a clear vision of her future adventures.

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