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Retired teacher starts tutoring program

HECTOR—Starting Tuesday, Nov. 18, students will have another reason to come to the Pert Library in Hector. New librarian Bobbie Beckhorn is beginning a tutoring program to run from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays to help students to grade six with basic skills and seventh to twelfth graders with computer research, projects and college applications.
While Beckhorn is new to the official librarian’s role at the Pert Library, she was a founder and active in the existence of the library for more than 30 years. When she moved from Burdett to the Hector-Valois
area in the 1970s, she saw the library as a way to contribute to something of community importance.
Back then, the library was a bookmobile parked where its engine had given out – in the lot of the Hector Presbyterian Church. Kathy Freese, then the librarian, was able to open the library on Sundays after church. But when Bobbie began volunteering and the two women took a hard look at the increasing dilapidation of the tiny structure, they realized another home was needed for Hector’s books.
“We went to a meeting at the Fire Hall – and the firemen listened to us and offered us their meeting room,” Beckhorn says. The library was given a convenient home it still enjoys. Even with the hospitality and generosity of the Valois-Logan-Hector Fire Company and the library’s affiliation with the Southern Tier Library System, this all-volunteer library, like every other library, still needs funds to purchase books and other library materials, so Beckhorn began an annual library booksale held during the VLH Firemen’s Fair every July, an event she’s chaired every year, Meanwhile, during the school year, Beckhorn worked as a teacher, first in Watkins Glen, then in a nursery school of her own creation while her children were pre-schoolers. This past June, she retired after 21 years of teaching at South Seneca Elementary School, where she’s taught at a range of levels including multi-age classrooms, Kindergarten through fourth grade, as well as math and science for fifth and seventh graders in summer school.
So it felt natural to begin an after-school program in the library, to combine her love of children and teaching with her love of the library. “I love children, and I love helping people,” Beckhorn says. “And the library is community. I’ve tutored many children in the past and it’s always a positive experience.”
When she tutored children at school, she often had students return months – and sometimes years – later to say, “What you taught me in fourth grade really helped me in my career,” and, “I really know this!” Sometimes they simply came to say, “Look, Mrs. Beckhorn! I wrote a paper and got an A.”
Her plan with the tutoring program is to help children reinforce study skills in content areas, as requested by parents and in consultation with their teachers. “We have all sorts of resources here,” she says, turning in her library chair to survey the small but comprehensive library. “I don’t just see books. We can use the fiction and nonfiction section for writing and reading, the computer for publishing and research, and we’ve got resources to send home.” Beckhorn credits former librarian Gayle Hatch, now
acquisitions librarian, for building a wonderful collection.
For example, books on tape paired with the physical book can help a child improve reading skills. “If every other 10-year-old is reading ‘Harry Potter’ on their own and you have a kid who can only read on the second-grade level, that child is left out,” she says. “Have him sit down with the audio and the book and he learns new words, he’s not the outside kid any more, and he can talk about the same stuff with his friends.”
The tutoring program is meant to be a support, part of a partnership between kids, teachers and parents, Beckhorn emphasizes. In order for their children to participate, parents need to contact Beckhorn at 607-546-6153 to discuss their child’s needs and reserve a space.
Beckhorn is enthusiastic about introducing more kids to the fun of learning at the library. “Maybe it will open a door,” she says. Besides, after a long and successful career in education, “I’m not going to be a failure at retirement,” she says.

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