When Leah Evangelisti saw the job ad for a new librarian at Telethon Speech & Hearing, she couldn’t believe her luck. Barely a few months after having moved across the country from Brisbane with her husband and two children, the perfect position had presented itself. A brand new chapter was about to begin .
“I was planning on taking things slowly and settling everyone into Perth, so I was doing some relief teaching and university supervision work. I had also started studying further, working my way through a Masters in Teacher-Librarianship,” Leah explains. “Then, this job came along which combines my love of all things early childhood development, speech and OT. I just felt like my philosophy aligned and everything came together here.
“It allows me to pursue my passions and manage the library and resources across an organisation, all while finding space for my studies. It is the perfect job and a match made in heaven. I feel very fortunate and I love it, I really do.”
Leah’s journey to the librarian-teacher role at TSH started in rural Queensland, in a country town called Boonah.
“My brother and I used to go to the local library all the time with my mum and dad, both of whom were teachers. We were raised in family where reading was very important to everyone – for leisure and for learning,” she explains.
“I have always had a love of books and I loved school, so in Grade 3 I decided that I would become a primary school teacher. I had a teacher at the time, Mrs Eldridge, who instilled a real love of play-based and investigative learning in me. I’m still in contact with her to this day.”
After finishing high school, Leah completed a four-year Bachelor of Education (Primary Education) degree in Brisbane and her teaching life has taken her to Samford State School in North Brisbane, Charleville School of Distance Education in Western Queensland, inner-city Brisbane and Townsville.
A few years ago, she and her husband, Dan, moved to Melbourne and welcomed two children, Nico (6) and Stefi (4), to the family. They returned to Brisbane to be closer to family but it was short lived. Dan’s job brought him back to Perth, where he grew up, at the end of last year.
The TSH library
Unsurprisingly, Leah sees the school library as central to all the wonderful work being done at TSH.
“I’d really like to see the library as the heart of the school environment. Everyone, across Talkabout, Chatterbox and Outpost, should be able to access it,” she explains. “I want it to be somewhere homely and welcoming. A place where TSH students and their families can learn about literature that supports language and speech development. At TSH, we know that families are key to early intervention. We want to support families to learn about how to best support the needs of their children at home.
“Books, and reading quality literature, are vital for developing oral language. We are seeing more and more children in the early years requiring support in speech and language development. TSH is uniquely positioned to support children with this early intervention. Reading, and the time that parents spend sharing books together with their children, supports the development of important early literacy skills. Libraries and significant others in children’s lives develop a love of language, knowledge about the world and build vocabulary. On top of that, reading is simply enjoyable.”
The TSH library is open from 08h30 to 14h40 every day. Leah would love to see more parents make use of the space and borrow books for their children and families.
“Our library is open to everyone,” she says. “Parents can bring their children, no matter how big or small. It’s not a place where we need to be quiet or where kids will get into trouble for pulling books off the shelves. We love all children in the library.”
At home in the classroom
When she’s not in the library, it’s quite possible that Leah can be found in one of the classrooms. As a qualified primary school teacher, she is comfortable filling in for the teachers from Talkabout.
“I love it,” she says. “It’s amazing because not only do I get to teach but I also get to learn from so many talented allied health professionals. I love the whole philosophy here at TSH – early intervention and meeting kids where they are at.”
Leah may have moved around quite a bit over the last few years, but we hope that her brand new chapter is a long one and that she has found her place here at TSH. As she alluded, it is a match made in heaven – but not only for her.