This week we welcome the new Early Learning Specialist, Beth Emmons, as we bid
farewell to Cheri Stainforth, beloved staff member who has served as the library’s Early
Learning Specialist for the past 4 years. Cheri will be moving to the Traverse City area
at the end of August where she will be returning to the classroom to positively impact
the lives of preschoolers, just as she has for the countless children and families in our
A few weeks ago, I sat down with Cheri to discuss her time at the library. As always, she
greeted me with a bright, warm smile—the kind that makes you feel welcome and at
home. This welcomeness has been Cheri’s goal all along.
When Cheri began at the library in June of 2018, she wanted to ensure that everyone
who walked through the library doors felt welcome. She focused on adding more
diversity and inclusion to the children’s wing—installing various sensory activities to
benefit neurodivergent thinkers, ordering books that represented different races, and
curating a collection of VOX Books—an audio resource that benefits legally blind, low
vision, and reluctant readers. Cheri also incorporated sign language into each Story
Time session, educating children about different forms of communication.
Despite Cheri’s countless contributions to the library, she told me, “The library gave so
much more back to me than I could ever give to it.”
I closed our time together by asking Cheri a few questions:
What has been your favorite part of working at the library? “My absolute favorite
part of the job is the kids and the families. I think that’s why I find myself going back into
the school. Being around kids and families just fills me.”
If you could give one piece of advice to parents, what would it be? “Number one:
good job for bringing your kids into the library! Number two: if they don’t seem
interested, it’s because they haven’t found the right book. Keep looking!”
What is your hope for the children you’ve worked with over the past four years?
“My prayer for every one of them is that they’d become lifelong readers in each stage of
their lives, even in the hard stages.”
The library’s Early Learning Specialist position will pass from one lifelong reader to the
next. In my very first conversation with Beth she told me how thrilled she was to accept
this position: “Becoming the next Early Learning Specialist is a dream come true for me.
I have always been a book nerd at heart, but during my 16 years teaching for
Frankenmuth Schools, I was able to actually watch the magic happen when kids pick up
a book and they fall in love with it. I want to help foster that magic every day.”
Beth is a certified Reading Specialist with a Masters Degree in K-12 Literacy. She has
been married to her husband, Shane, for 18 years. Together they have two girls: Violet,
who will be entering into 7th grade at EFR this fall, and Ada, who will be going into 3rd
grade at List Elementary. They also have a 13 year old pug named Penelope.
One of Beth’s goals during her time at the library is to incorporate more writing into the
programs for children. She is eager to cultivate “a special place where families can
come and get wrapped up in books; where kids can fall in love with not just reading, but
all forms of literacy, including writing.” Beth is a writer herself and has recently submitted
a manuscript to an agent for a children’s picture book.
In the midst of this transition, one thing remains exceptionally clear: the Wickson District
Library has a bright history and, as we continue to build on each other’s successes, an
even brighter future.
Families should plan to attend a special “Hello, Goodbye” Story Time on Thursday,
August 18th at 10am. A community drop in reception will follow for the remainder of the