Helen Dunn has seen it all — literally — at West Hall High School. She’s been the librarian at the school since the doors opened 25 years ago. While a lot has changed since 1988, Dunn says the school in many ways is just the same, a place where faculty and staff truly care about their students and where students help keep her young.
Today, The Times asks Helen Dunn five questions about her life and passion at West Hall.
1. You’ve been at West Hall High School for a long time. How have students changed over the years?
Yes, I have been at WHHS since the doors opened in August 1988. I keep asking myself, “Has it really been 25 years?”
I have observed many changes in the outward appearance of teens from clothing fads to hairstyles. Basically, teenagers haven’t really changed that much over the years.
I have learned that teens thrive in an environment that is caring, inviting and most importantly accepting. From the beginning at WHHS, the library has been a haven for all students.
2. Because of technology, are you worried that librarians may become a thing of the past?
No, I am not worried about librarians becoming obsolete because of technology. In fact, just the opposite is true.
Over the years, I have witnessed the library evolve alongside technology. The library continues to be the hub of WHHS. We help students with online presentation tools, social media and how to properly use the Internet.
We have online databases and tools, an informative website (whhslibrary.weebly.com), and we even have a twitter account (@WHHSLibrary1).
The world in which teenagers live is fraught with information that needs to be analyzed and evaluated for accuracy and validity. Students need guidance in trudging through all the information that is literally at their fingertips. Librarians are the best point people for helping students use technology wisely while we continue to develop and encourage teenagers’ love for reading.
3. Do you like ebooks or do you still favor hardcover books? Why?
I must admit that I will always be a hardcover book lover. I do see the value of e-books especially to access reference books or textbooks.
When a new shipment of books arrives, the experience is like having a second Christmas morning or another great birthday in the year! The smell of a new book and the rustle of turning the page will never lose its allure for me. When I share a “good read” with a student and they come back in the library wanting to gush about how much they loved the book — It’s priceless!
4. What has been your favorite part of working at West Hall?
Wow, I can’t choose just one part as my favorite!
Being the prom sponsor for our first 10 years was so much fun and I treasure those memories.
In the late ’90s, I made the mistake of jokingly telling (soccer coach) Wolfgang Jager that I might want to try my hand at coaching junior varsity girls soccer. The next thing I knew, I was studying every soccer book I could get my hands on. I had the time of my life for those five years! My players were all such special young ladies.
In recent years, I have been closely involved with the International Baccalaureate Program. As a part of this program, I have opportunities to assist students as they transform from dreamers to achievers, and I feel re-energized in my career.
Above all, my favorite part has been the relationships that I have built with both WHHS faculty and students.
5. What is something you wish everyone knew about West Hall?
I would like for everyone to know that West Hall High School is the best-kept secret in Georgia. This school is truly my second home.
I have the pleasure of working with an administration, faculty, team of custodians and lunchroom staff who genuinely care about the students who attend WHHS.
There is a warm, compassionate atmosphere for learning and a sense of family. West Hall has been a special place to me because I wake up in the morning and I am happy to go to school (work).
Our diverse student population is a particular point of pride because of the connections made between students despite numerous differences.
WHHS is a unique place full of wonderful students who keep me young.