BULLHEAD CITY — What would be the dream job of a girl who loved books and considered school her favorite place to be?
Sonyia Roy was that girl; she’s now library media specialist at Desert Valley Elementary School.
“I feel like I have a dream job,” Roy said. “I get to teach kids to love books and to love reading.”
But the Desert Valley library these days goes far beyond just books. Roy spends some of her time helping students develop computer skills, and a portion of the library space is dedicated to hands-on learning tools such as Lego pieces and other building sets.
“The kids absolutely love it,” Roy said. “The library, when I was a kid, was just books and reading.”
Roy said children still like reading, with some books popular across all grades. It has gone high-tech as well, in that students can check out e-books.
One popular set of books is the “Pete the Cat” series by Kimberly Dean, James Dean and Eric Litwin.
Pete frequently finds himself with difficulties, but makes his way through them.
“He teaches us that the world changes, and it’s not worth throwing a fit over it,” Roy said. “You accept it, you move on and you smile about it.”
Roy typically opens the library for free time in the morning. She said there might be 60 students there, reading, checking out books or using art or building supplies.
A recent group was writing letters of appreciation to present to teachers on the last day of school.
Roy said her love for the library began when she was about kindergarten age.
“Once I learned to read, that library was my playground,” she said. “I could remember where all my favorites were.”
She said that what her younger self liked about books was their ability to transport the reader to another place or time.
Roy said she remains an avid reader, sometimes with a child bringing in a book that sparks her interest.
Roy is in her first year at Desert Valley Elementary. She had been librarian at Coyote Canyon Elementary for nine years, but was transferred after a district realignment that saw students from her former school dispersed to three other campuses.
She classifies the students at Desert Valley into two groups: those she has known since they were in kindergarten, and those she wishes she’d known that long.
Roy said she also enjoys working with the classroom teachers; she said she helps the children build computer and literacy skills and covers social studies and science to reinforce what the children learn in class.
“Sonyia does an excellent job of supporting the school in all academic aspects,” Desert Valley Principal Sandra Brown said, noting that Roy also incorporates reading, writing, and technology into her daily instruction.
One important part of her job, Roy said, is to introduce the students to technology standards.
She said that the students of today come to school more prepared for technology than past groups did, and that it’s fun to help them learn typing and other skills.
“I adore them,” she said. “I love that they’re eager to learn. We have the best kids.”
Her popularity with the students can be guessed at, based on the number of Garfield items they have given her over the years. She decorates several areas in the library with them. Other characters from the cat comic strip are there, too, including Odie, Arlene and Nermal.
Roy chooses the books and other materials for the library, augmenting a meager budget by writing grants. She’s fond of DonorsChoose, a nonprofit that allows individuals to donate directly to public school projects.
First-grade teacher Ava Smith said Roy is an asset to the school, having, for example, created a special award system for students who reach the typing goals for their grade levels.
“She is very humble and has dedicated herself to the well-being of our students for some two decades,” Smith said.
Smith said Roy takes on a lot of responsibilities without complaint.
“She is always willing to help out,” Smith said.