Phyllis Bontrager has worked in education for a number or years, taking on a diverse range of roles throughout her career. She became an early childhood education teacher back in 1996, gaining valuable insight and experience to guide her in working with children of many diverse backgrounds including those with special educational needs. Three years ago she started a new chapter in her educational career when she transitioned her role as classroom educator to educating children through the joys of learning within the Baltimore County Library System.
Bontrager has an associate degree in early childhood education from Hesston College and Bachelor of Arts, also in early childhood education, from Eastern Mennonite College. Through her 20 years of experience and certifications she also earned a master’s equivalency. Bontrager started her career with the Baltimore County Public Library as an early childhood program assistant before moving into her current role as a youth service specialist.
Do you have anything to share about what inspired you to enter your current field?
“I have always been a library user, and when my son was younger we went to baby story time and preschool story time.”
What are the responsibilities of your current role?
“I am a manager of 15 part-time story time staff, and assist in teen programming within the library.”
What is your favorite part about your daily duties within the different library branches?
“I love going to the different libraries around the county and working with the librarians and staff to do programs. I enjoy mentoring the story time staff and finding new information to help strengthen their gifts and abilities. I enjoy being creative with using technology in programs.”
How has your education and training prepared you for your current role as the youth service specialist for Baltimore County Library?
“Having a degree in early childhood education has helped me work with others to help them know what is developmentally appropriate for birth to five years of age. In my field as an educator, I am used to managing groups of children, and this has helped prepare me to guide others as they lead story times.”
What do you do to continue your specialized education and training?
“At this point I am taking LATI, (Library Associates Training Institute). This is a six month course that will help me be certified in the library.”
Laura Catherine Hermoza has a lifelong love for writing. In addition to serving as a contributor to various media publications, she is also a published novelist of several books and works as a proofreader/editor. LC resides in Baltimore County.