A bittersweet farewell

SHS says goodbye to its Media Specialist of 9 years


Photo by Grace Elder

Media Specialist Tara Foor works at her desk in the IMC. Her last day at SHS will be Dec. 2.

Ever since kindergarten, Tara Foor thought she wanted to be a teacher. As a child, she would even line up her stuffed animals after school and teach them what she had learned that day. She was fascinated by the way her teacher would write things on the chalkboard and use it to teach them. It’s something her parents still make fun of her for, but it led her to what she is doing today.
After graduating from Sinagua High School in Arizona in 2007, she attended Purdue University to get her bachelor’s degree in Secondary English Education. From there, she began teaching English at Newcastle High School and then at Shelbyville High School. But, she soon realized that the constraints of a classroom weren’t for her, and she needed something that allowed her to expand the limitations in what she taught.
One of her friends suggested that she be a librarian because she thought she had the perfect personality for it. Foor decided to go to graduate school at Indiana University to get a master’s degree in Library Science and her School Library Certification. While there, one of her professors encouraged her to do a practice interview since librarian interviews are much different than teacher interviews. And SHS happened to be holding interviews at the time, and that interview turned out to be more than just practice.
In June 2014, she was hired at SHS as the school’s Library Media Specialist, but not without difficulty. Foor says that there were many reasons why she shouldn’t have even gotten the job, including turning in her application late and being late to her interview due to traffic.
“Stars aligned,” Foor said. “And even though there were many moments where I shouldn’t have gotten it, it seemed like it was fated to be.”
As she was hired during construction of the current IMC, she had the chance to build it to her vision and make it what it is today. In her time at SHS, she has put her focus on cross-curricular activities and connecting students who otherwise may not have been able to connect. Though, she says her favorite part has been helping students connect with books.
Outside of the IMC, another reason she has loved working at SHS is the support she feels from the other staff.
“Southport is indeed very much a culture of family,” Foor said. “People will try to support you however they can. And even if they don’t know what you need and you don’t know what you need, they’ll still be willing to listen and ask you questions and try to help you as much as they can.”
And while she enjoys the culture of family that others bring to SHS, some believe that she is a big creator of that culture, all throughout SHS.
“She kind of creates the environment that we want in our building and the IMC,” SHS principal Brian Knight said.
Even outside of the staff culture, her students say that she is a large part of why they enjoy spending time in the library.
“She just has a very fun presence … ,” sophomore Lillian Hess said. “It’s like a refreshing personality after you just had somewhat boring teachers teach all day.”
As much as she has enjoyed working at SHS and the students and staff have enjoyed working with her, her time here will soon be coming to an end.
In the summer before this school year, Foor worked at the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana’s Camp Gallahue as the Assistant Director. In the school year before, she had both personal and professional issues that made her job not as enjoyable. While working at camp, she was able to take a break from the stress she had been feeling before.
“It was … seven weeks off grid in Brown County with no Internet, no cell signal and it was like the most amazing experience,” Foor said. “I learned so much from it.”
While she was there, one of her supervisors told her about a job opening within GSCI and asked her if she would be interested in applying for it. Foor originally turned down the offer saying that she was happy where she was. But, the opportunity came up again, and she felt like she needed to take it.
She says it was a similar experience to being hired at SHS, where it just “fell into place.”
“If something is aligning and an opportunity keeps presenting itself, then maybe you should pursue it or look into it,” Foor said.
In her new position, she will be the Director of Stem Technology and will oversee the STEM center and create fun learning activities. She’s excited to be able to do more cross-curricular activities and create new projects. Some that she is most excited about creating are a mechanic shop, a space and star lab with an observatory, a virtual reality green space, electric bike stations, solar powered activities and an LED ball pit.
“I’m stoked,” Foor said. “It’s super cool, (and) I can’t wait for everybody to see what it’s going to turn out to be. I have high hopes, and I hope I make them.”
Though her next journey will not include SHS, she will never forget the impact the staff, students and culture has made on her.
While she is excited for this new opportunity, she is also sad that she is leaving a place she has loved so much. She appreciates the different areas of SHS that have made her time here so enjoyable.
“This is the best school district I’ve ever worked in,” Foor said. “Our administration like Brian Knight, Amy Boone, Eric Woodke, (Chris) Finkhouse and (Joe) Horvath, they are the best admin I’ve ever worked for. These are some of the best kids … I’ve ever worked with. It’s just a great place.”
Knight says that he is sad to see her go and that he knows finding someone to bring the attributes she brought to SHS will be challenging. But, he knows that this is an opportunity for her to expand herself.
“We kind of preach here that we want people to learn and we want people to grow and we want people to get better,” Knight said. “Which then sometimes means they move on to different things.”
The current plan for filling the Media Specialist position has not yet been finalized. The job has been posted and is open for applications, and Knight hopes to get those interviews going shortly after Thanksgiving break.
They hope to have the position filled by the beginning of second semester but know that finding a quality candidate can take time and don’t want to choose someone unqualified just to fill the position.
While in the transition period, Knight says that there will likely be more limited activities happening in the library. Though, he says the space will still be available for teachers to use and the IMC will continue to offer time to check out books.
Through this transition period in the IMC there might be limited activities, but Knight doesn’t want to limit students’ accessibility to books. He says that having kids come to the IMC to check out books is uncompromisable, regardless of the circumstances.
Foor says that she has learned a lot in her time here and will use what she learned to be successful in her new position.
“We learn so much from each other, and we’re all about taking risks and trying new opportunities,” Foor said. “I feel like I wouldn’t be using the lessons y’all have taught me if I didn’t pursue my own risks, and this just seems like such a cool opportunity and I’m like, ‘I have to make them all proud.’’
This goodbye will not be an easy one for staff and students, but SHS is excited to see what she will do. With Knight “preaching” the idea of learning and growing beyond horizons, he understands first hand this bittersweet goodbye.
“I just wish her the best of luck,” Knight said. “It’s sad to see her go and we’re parting on very good terms … There’s an excitement for her and the sadness that she’s leaving us … I know she’ll go do really good things wherever she is. The Girl Scouts got a good one.”