Jen Horne isn’t embarrassed when she’s caught reading a Captain Underpants book.
Her personal reading preferences are biographies and history books, but staying relevant to elementary school kids by reading the Dave Pilkey books, is important to her.
Horne is a library media specialist and the teacher of the year at Carolina Forest Elementary School.
“She’s where all the magic happens,” says principal Dennis Devorick about Horne. “She always positive, she never says ‘no’ to anyone.”
Before Horne started teaching at CFES seven years ago, four years into her career, she was a substitute there.
“I thought the teachers here were so amazing, and I wanted my kids to go here, and luckily, I got a job here,” she says.
Her two daughters, a 9-year-old third grader and a 4-year-old in child development, attend CFES.
The family includes husband Jon, a South Carolina native, who works in automobile financing.
The Carolina Forest family is, Horne says, “a Disney family” that travels, enjoys the beach, and doing as much as possible together.
Horne grew up in Maryland, surrounded by educators, and says she “fell into’ the profession.
Her paternal grandfather was a principal and dean of York College of Pennsylvania. Her paternal grandmother was a teacher.
Horne’s mother taught Sunday school, her father, an attorney, was an adjunct professor who taught law at night, and her sister teaches in Fort Mill.
When Horne graduated from Newberry College, she went to work at USC as an internship coordinator in the School of Journalism.
When she learned the School of Library was right there also, and that it had much to do with community relations – that’s what her undergrad focus was – it was, she says, a natural fit.
Libraries, she says, are very different places than when she was a kid, but are as relevant, if not more so.
A couple years ago, e-books looked like they might present a threat to hard copy books, but Horne says that’s no longer an issue.
Time has shown, she says, “kids still want to pick up a real book and read for pleasure.”
And, parents still encourage their kids to read physical books because they want to limit the screen time children spend on the computer.
“We need libraries now more than ever,” Horne says. “There’s so much information out there, but we need to teach our kids how to get the right information. It’s different than it used to be.”
During her classes in the media center, Horne includes topics such as digital etiquette, cyber bullying and internet safety.
“E-books are wonderful for non-fiction and research,” she says, “but it still makes me happy that kids want to hold books in their hands.”