Difference-Maker: Patricia Kuhn

Posted by Kelly Emerson - 04 March, 2018

Difference Makers - 5800848.jpgWe have a number of Randolph employees whose roles are unique to our school and whose work makes a difference to the quality of the student experience. Our Dean of Student Research and Library Resources, Patricia Kuhn, is one of Randolph's Difference-Makers.

What do you do? 

I have many roles at Randolph, but they all boil down to helping students uncover information as it pertains to their academic and personal interests. That might happen in the form of historical research about ancient civilizations. It might also happen in the context of a research paper about a deeply personal passion such as immigration, space travel or cancer research. I help students apply this research in the community by coordinating our Interim program and by working with our Summer Internship Program through Randolph ConnectIt’s about discovery and self-awareness.

At school I’m never without…

A cup of tea, a notebook and my glasses. Working with teenagers requires energy and enthusiasm. One never knows when a great idea might strike – and I need to be able to see the notebook.

What’s different about your work here?

I’ve never had the opportunity to get to know students as well as I do at Randolph. In my role, I learn what really interests our students and how they express those interests. I see their fun sides, but I also see their anxieties and fears. They never cease to amaze me in terms of depth of thought, curiosity and creativity.

When you tell people what you do, what kinds of things do they ask?

When I tell people my title is Dean of Student Research and Library Resources, their eyes glaze over. So then I say I am a librarian.

The most frequent comment I get is, “Oh – you must get to read a lot!” Unfortunately, that isn’t true. I struggle to find time to read, and most of my time is spent on the computer, speaking with students, or researching.

A long time ago, when I was contemplating getting my Masters in Library and Information Science, my mentor told me to never tell a potential employer that I want to be a librarian because I love to read. There simply isn’t time! 

What’s your philosophy about your work?

It is very important to maintain a sense of humor at all times. High school students are in the midst of a very challenging time in their lives. They are experiencing stress from many sources – including from within. Identifying behaviors that are stress-related as opposed to just normal teenage hijinks helps one navigate the day-to-day. I try to be someone who is both helpful and approachable, while maintaining as much structure in my role as possible. I fail sometimes, but teenagers are forgiving. As long you are honest and sincere with them about your own failings, things tend to go well. 

"Teenagers are forgiving. As long you are honest and sincere with them about your own failings, things tend to go well." 

What does a child need to be happy and/or successful at school?

Children need to feel safe, known and engaged with the community. I love that there are so many opportunities here at Randolph for students with varied interests to engage. I also love that every student has multiple adults looking after him or her. There is no opportunity for any student to fall through the cracks.

Where can you be found most days?

Ninety-nine percent of the time, I can be found in the Upper School library. I might be sitting at the circulation desk. I might be in the book stacks. I might be teaching in the library classroom, or working in my office.

Describe a great day at work.

A great day is when I am overwhelmed with students to assist, every conversation is fruitful, and I learn something from every student with whom I interact. I hope that they come away with the same feeling.

What are some of the things you love about working at Randolph?

I love that my day is never the same. There is nothing routine about my job. I love the variety of personalities I work with and the depth of their content knowledge. I work with very smart people! The students are so enthusiastic, creative and engaging. Moreover, I love the pizza on Fridays.

Best time of the school year and why?

Third quarter. The buzz in the Upper School library is palpable. The seniors are making college decisions. The juniors are working hard on their I-Search papers. Everyone is excited about Interim. It’s an exciting time.

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Topics: career development, library, research, individualization, independent research, Randolph Connect, difference maker

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