Mrs. Knightstep enjoys any and all books, as well as finding joy in vacationing with her family. (Photo Courtesy of Erica Knightstep)
When you enter the media center at Leesville, you will immediately notice the quiet busyness that it holds. Students are hard at work, supervised by the excellent staff. The media specialists help students in any way they can. They know how to locate books, find resources, and teach classes. Furthermore, they interact with students on a personal level; providing assistance with writing papers or finding a book you can enjoy.
Erica Knightstep, one of Leesville’s media specialists, is an expert at connecting and instructing students.
She grew up in Tarboro, thinking she would go to the University of North Carolina. A friend told her to look at UNC Greensboro for its phenomenal English department. When she toured, Knightstep was not prepared to fall in love with the school the way she did. “I walked on the campus, and I knew that was where I wanted to be,” said Knightstep. She completed her undergraduate degree there, loving the experience.
After college, she taught high school students for ten years before deciding she wanted to move out of only teaching. “I wanted to transition out of the classroom but stay in a position where I could still work with students and teach, talk about books and help them with research,” said Knighstep. Her passion for students is evident — the way she communicates and places value on each conversation shows students they matter. She seeks to connect with students on a more personal level.
In the future, look out for a book by Mrs. Knightstep. Young adult fiction is her forte, so she decided to try her hand at writing one herself. Right now, she is in the process of trying to publish it. Writing a book is hard, but the struggle is worth it. “[Writing a book] has taught me to appreciate young adult lit[erature] and the work that goes into writing a young adult novel,” said Knightstep.
When she started writing the novel, the creative process hit a wall. It was put on pause for a long time until she finally picked it up again and was able to finish it. It taught her a few valuable metaphors for life. “Sometimes you hit a roadblock, and you have to take a step back and take a breath…and when you [reach] a moment when you can pick it back up again and continue on to the end, that’s life as well,” said Knightstep.
Knightstep has started to notice how really knowing the characters in her book helps her understand students. “There are days when I’m walking around at lunch and I’ll think… you’re the girl in my book,” said Knightstep. She knows that the stories of fictional characters are not mutually exclusive from those of students in real life. Knowing this is a connecting point for her. That’s what makes Mrs. Knightstep unique: she knows how to relate to students and she works hard to make them feel cared for. This kind of relationship is essential, especially in the chaos of high school.
“My favorite part about being a librarian is that moment you connect a kid with a book…that moment when I get a kid to really like a book when he didn’t think… that was going to happen,” said Knightstep. She loves books and loves to help students love books. The way books can transport you to another world is extraordinary. They can show you new places and teach you new lessons, all from the safety of your seat. Knightstep does her job for the joy of teaching a student to love reading.
What makes Mrs. Knightstep a good librarian: Is it her love for books? Is it her passion for students? It is the combination of these things. Her work becomes more effective because she is fully engaged at Leesville with the goal of raising up readers. With the support of two other wonderful specialists, this dream team seeks to engage Leesville with the power of reading.
Knightstep is an invaluable team member at Leesville for her desire to better students. If you are ever near the library, stop in and ask for help finding a book; it would make Mrs. Knightstep’s day.