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Singleton Primary School librarian puts down the books after 20 years

Primary school librarian Joan Farmer retires after 20 years
Singleton Primary School Librarian Joan Farmer.
Photo Tex Reeks.

Singleton Primary School librarian Joan Farmer is set to retire on Friday, after 20 years of providing unconditional love and support to the local community.

Mrs Farmer has spent her time creating a safe and friendly environment for students and parents to read, learn and grow.

The day the school opened in 1997, she was there as mother to take her daughter into Year 3.

On that day, Mrs Farmer approached the library staff and asked if she could give a lending hand with the facility’s establishment.

She started off volunteering, which lead to working one day a week and eventually landed herself a full-time position.

During her time at the school, Mrs Farmer aimed to make the library a safe and fun-filled place for students to go and feel at one.

Mrs Farmer said her passion and love for students and staff was the reason she got out of bed in the morning.

“The children have kept me young, they’ve let me be a child, they tell me their stories, their worries, we talk about books, they always bring a smile and even sometimes a hug, they’re just lovely,” she said.

Creating a safe and comfortable environment often seen children open up to the primary school librarian who worked closely with the school chaplain.

“Some children have life issues they need to open up about, to someone who isn’t a teacher and isn’t going to tell them what to do but just to listen and be there for them,” Mrs Farmer said.

“Just letting children know that you care about them and that they matter is really important

“So saying hello every time you see them, acknowledging that they’re a person and that they have feelings. 

“I think what we have to remember is kids aren’t growing into a life, they’re living their life now, they might be three or six but whatever is happening for them is real and it sticks.”

Mrs Farmer introduced ‘Breakfast Club’ about 10 years ago which is food provided at the library in the morning and available for anybody that hasn’t eaten – no questions asked.

The librarian said she knew many children were being rushed out of the house and coming to school early because mums and dads were going to work.

“I found out that some of them hadn’t eaten, it was nobody’s fault, it’s just how it is,” she said.

“The library opens at 8am and a lot of kids who come in here don’t just come for breakfast.

“They come to hang out with their mates, read, draw and relax.

“Sometimes the kids who do come for breakfast come for more than just the food, they want to come to a place that’s welcoming in the morning before they go to class.”

Singleton Primary School Librarian Joan Farmer says goodbye after 20 years.
Photo Tex Reeks.

Mrs Farmer also started ‘Quiet Time’ about 13 years ago, after attending a seminar by child behaviour specialist and child health advocate Maggie Dent where she spoke about children and the magic of stillness and silence

‘Quiet Time’ is a 15-minute session after lunch, which all students participate in.

Mrs Farmer played relaxing, calm music over the schools P.A and sometimes told a story that had a significant meaning during the sessions.

The primary school librarian said she hoped both were carried on after her departure but it was out of her hands now.

Singleton Primary School principal Nicky Tucker said Mrs Farmer’s legacy would live on and she would always be remembered.

“Mrs Farmer has been invaluable to all our students and staff for over 20 years,” Ms Tucker said.

“Her passion for reading, pastoral care and helping all those who pass through the library doors is nothing short of amazing.

“Quiet Time and Breakfast Club will definitely continue, its become an integral part of the pastoral care initiatives at Singleton.

“The legacy that Mrs Farmer has created will live on for many years to come.

“Her influence and involvement with children and adults alike will be remembered in all of our hearts.”

The primary school librarian will be on holiday when students return after the Easter break, which she said would help her not feel like she needed to be returning.

When she finishes her holiday in the eastern states, she will return to her five-acre property in which she hopes to regenerate and restore surrounding bushland.

After that, Mrs Farmer said she plans to spend her time doing lots of reading, looking after her granddaughter and maybe even some volunteer work.

“I’m sure I will fill out my time but there will be a big hole in my heart for a long time,” Mrs Farmer said.

“It’s lovely to know that maybe I’ve made a difference, which is just really nice.”

Mrs Farmer said she hoped the library remains a safe and happy place for students and parents to come and go.

“The word ‘love’ is a bit frowned upon but I think that’s what you need to feel when you’re working with kids.

“You need to feel that love and show huge affection for them – they respond to that.

“I hope that’s what I’ve been able to do.”

Mrs Farmer was sent off with a special whole school assembly on Thursday afternoon.

Follow Tex on Twitter via @texreeks.

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