When Pam Moffett was volunteering in her daughter’s middle school library in Worthington a little over 25 years ago, the librarian told her, “You love this, and you’re good at it. You should do this full time.”
A couple of years later with her daughter in high school, Moffett, who held an undergraduate degree in education, decided to recertify her training and become a school librarian. When she went back to work (Moffett had opted not to teach while she was raising a family), she applied at Olentangy Schools, working for a few years at Wyandot Run and Scioto Ridge elementary schools before finding her way to Shanahan Middle School.
The Shanahan building also housed the district’s only high school when Moffett graduated in the Olentangy class of 1975.
“My (original certification) was in English 7-12, but I especially loved to read, and I still do,” Moffett said. “The best part of what I do is to share that love with the kids.”
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Moffett is a true Olentangy “lifer,” and maybe even a Shanahan “lifer.” After attending Orange, Berlin, Hyatts and Powell schools from kindergarten through sixth grade, Moffett moved to the Shanahan building for seventh grade.
That year, the building was renovated and began its tenure as the sole school building in the district for all grades.
“I really wanted to be here,” Moffett said of applying for school library jobs in the late 1990s. “There was just something in me that felt drawn here, even though I hadn’t lived in the area for years. I was proud to be able to come back to where my roots are.”
Moffett spent 25 more years in the district, including 21 at Shanahan, before shelving her last book at the end of the just-completed school year as a library media specialist. The opportunity to retire while she’s young enough to travel and visit her grandchildren – and to spend more time reading – was appealing, despite her ongoing passion for sharing books with students and the camaraderie with fellow faculty and staff.
“I will miss the interaction with kids and getting the things they’re looking for, or the things they don’t know they’re looking for, into their hands,” she said. “And I have some really good friends (at Shanahan) who I will miss not seeing every day. This has been my family for the past 25 years.”
Spanish teacher Ashlee Ralph said she and Moffett started at Shanahan together 21 years ago.
“There was a group of us who were new that grew to become friends,” Ralph said. “She’s the same person now that she was then. Of course, we all have life changes along the way, but the picture I’ve always had of Pam in my head is her smiling.”
Physical-education and health teacher Susan Alley said Moffett is a great friend.
“We’ve come to know each other’s families,” Alley said. “We hit it off both professionally and personally. She was always a great resource when I was looking for ideas to keep my teaching fresh, and beyond that, we each just seemed to have an immediate trust for the other.”
Moffett’s colleagues also lauded her professionalism and her passion.
“Pam really loves books – that’s where her heart is,” said Amy Brown, a library aide at Shanahan for the past 15 years. “She probably loved doing book talks the most, of all the parts of her jobs. That and Battle of the Books. I will definitely miss her.”
Moffett confirmed Brown’s thoughts about book talks – in which Moffett would discuss a list of suggested titles for students – and Battle of the Books, an annual contest.
“I also really love to have kids come in and tell you about the books they’re reading,” Moffett said. “I had one eighth-grade girl come in and ask me for my email address so she could keep asking me for suggestions on books to read.”
“(Moffett) always enjoyed when classes would come in and she would be able to share with the full group,” Ralph said. “She was always looking for ways to help support both teachers and students.”
“I was always dropping in to see what resources she might have available for my classes,” said Jake Moss, who was a teacher at Wyandot Run when Moffett started there and later taught at Shanahan. “It wasn’t just a place for books, either. It was a place where we could do research or where we could work on major projects.”
Moffett admitted the pace of advancements in technology tested her sometimes, but she made certain she was adaptable and her space was always up to date with the ways in which students wanted and needed to use the library.
“It changed a lot in the past 25 years. And a whole lot since I was in school here,” Moffett said with a laugh. “I took typing on an actual typewriter, and I don’t even think it was electric. I tell the kids when I was their age, we had one phone in the house, and it was attached to the kitchen wall.”
Moffett said that students in the largely suburban district aren’t always interested in stories about the “old days,” although when the opportunity arose, she would discuss how different things were when she was a student, which opened some eyes.
“The land was mostly farmland, and a lot of the kids I went to school with were farmers or from farm families,” Moffett said. “There were no neighborhoods with sidewalks.”
Moffett grew up first on South Old State Road and later on North Road. She said her family has history in the district – her mother also graduated from Olentangy, and her father served on the school board for a time, as well as on Orange Township’s board of trustees. He even served as grand marshal of a parade from the Shanahan building to the then-new Olentangy High School, which, when it was opened in 1990, was the second building in the district.
Moffett’s sister and brother also graduated from the district, she said, as did all of her sister’s children.
“My graduating class had 132 students,” she said, adding that she never believed her education suffered for being in a small school district.
“My education in Olentangy really set me up for success. The experiences I had here as a student still shape me now,” she said. “Olentangy still has a strong reputation for offering a high-quality education. I think that and the sense of community – which so many people work so hard to maintain when things are growing so fast and in such a large district – are things that, in my 50 or so years in the district, haven’t changed.”