November 16, 2017

Liz Phipps Soeiro | Movers & Shakers 2017 – Educators

Liz Phipps Soeiro

CURRENT POSITION

School Librarian, Cambridgeport School Library, Cambridge, MA

DEGREE

MSLIS, Simmons College, Boston, 2007

FOUNDER

Cambridge Book Bike

FOLLOW

@ReflectLibrary, @Book_Bike, @Cport_Special (Twitter); CambridgeBookBike (Facebook); cambridgebookbike.org; reflectivelibrary.blogspot.com

Photo by Kristen Joy Emack

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Civics Lessons

Thanks to the efforts of school librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro, students and their families at Cambridgeport School Library know that their voices matter. Through innovative programs, Phipps Soeiro builds strong and trusting relationships among students, families, and community leaders. “Liz gives kids [and families] the opportunity to find their civic voice and use it to fight for what is right,” says Audrey Sturgis, Cambridgeport assistant principal.

Her teaching makes issues come alive for students, connecting what they read in school to their lives. Students learn about research, communication, and advocacy and have lobbied local leaders for projects such as school playground upgrades and a “little free library” in a city park. Phipps Soeiro does not preplan projects for the year, instead letting students’ interests guide their efforts.

Phipps Soeiro is also the founder of the Cambridge Book Bike, a grassroots project that distributes books at city parks during the summer, with a focus on locations that serve free lunch. Over the past three summers, the program has grown from three parks to five and has given out approximately 6,000 books. The group partners with local organizations like the Cambridge Public Library and Food for Free, which provides free farmers markets. The program is “holistic,” Phipps Soeiro says, with a mantra of “full bellies, full minds.”

About five years ago, she introduced a weekly program called “Coffee and Conversation,” welcoming families and caregivers to the school library to discuss topics of current interest. About once per month, she invites guest speakers such as city councilors, district administrators, and nonprofit representatives to engage with families in casual conversation.

At these meetings, “families learn [about] what is available to them and have the opportunity to make personal connections with, as Liz puts it, ‘decision-makers,’ ” says Sturgis.

One meeting with a nonprofit led to families being matched with free tablets and math apps, while another prompted construction of a new playground. The meetings let people feel they are heard on topics that make a difference in their lives, the lives of their children, and the broader community.

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This article was published in Library Journal's March 15, 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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Comments

  1. I don’t understand why you would reject any books given to your school. Could you not have donated them to your Cambridge Book Bike organization?
    Just imagine what good you could do with these books, not to mention the joy a child would feel by receiving a book.
    You should reexamine your real motives. Keeping these books out of the hands of young children is very selfish.
    I’ll bet you read those exact books as a child.
    Who gave you the right to take this away from others?
    You are very short sighted and I’m not sure what’s in your heart!

  2. Respectfully: Boo!

  3. Paul Atreides says:

    This comment has been removed because it does not comply with LJ’s Comment Policy.

  4. Barbara Parsons says:

    As the school district said she does not have the authority to accept or reject this gift. She needs to be reassigned.

  5. How do you sleep at night with such hate?

  6. Mary Fitzgerald says:

    Sad that a “role model” for children is allowed to be so obviously divisive. Evidently a degree in library science means nothing these days. Keep up the good work!

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  8. Have some respect for your country, Ms Liz. A degree, maybe, but no common sense or appreciation.

  9. Kristin Sells says:

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  12. Ms. Phipps Soeiro, you seem to be a well educated and compassionate person. Doing good in your community through various programs of giving back. Therefore, I am confused as to how someone so compassionate and caring for others could do something so mean spirited and rude as what you did. Ms. Phipps Soeiro, don’t let your personal political views turn you into this type of person. Saying thank you and moving on would have proved you are better than what you ended up doing. Do the right thing (have proper manners and be a class act) even when you think others are not for you are the one that has to look yourself in the mirror each day…

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  15. I must say for your position , I find it very rude. What kind of a role model are you ? And the list you sent back? Tsk tsk
    Embarrassing

  16. Ms. Phipps Soeiro, I’m embarrassed by your rude behavior toward Melania Trump. Would you have done something like that to Michelle Obama? I dare say not. Even if you don’t agree with someone’s politics you don’t have to retaliate in a hateful manner. Couldn’t you have made a gift of them to a needy child? You didn’t have to reject them.

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  18. Kate Peterson says:

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  20. John Peasant says:

    Could you please update your various Mission Statements to be truthful? You know, something like “to indoctrinate today’s youth to become intolerant Liberals”?

    Since when is it Ms. Phipps Soeiro’s official duty to call ban children from reading Dr Seuss because of her warped view of the United States? I’m willing to bet that she has long since purged and burned ‘Huckleberry Finn’ from the library shelves, as well as other works of literature written by that racist Mark Twain.

  21. So very proud of you Liz! You spoke so eloquently with the children in mind, which most do not do these days. Sometimes honestly is better then just bowing to the absurd ignorance of power!

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  23. John Peasant says:

    Weren’t some German guys in the 1930s also in the habit of burning books?