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Carmen Kent Continues to Influence Readers Young & Old in Kit Carson

By Betsy Barnett

2021-03-11 15:24:47

Although Kit Carson school librarian Carmen Kent passed away in 2019 after bravely fighting breast cancer for many years, she left a legacy of friends, co-workers, students and family who know the value of reading and learning.  Because she was so passionate about books and reading, making sure her Kit Carson community felt the same way, she was honored with having the brand-new school media center named in her honor.  The new Carmen Kent Media Center was christened last week with the entire school and much of the community attending the ceremony.

Above the entrance door to the new media center the sign reads, “You Are Now Entering the Carmen Kent Media Center.  Read Proudly!”

At the celebration Carmen’s son Chandler Kent, his wife Bri and their four children took the opportunity to read a Dr. Seuss book to the students in attendance.  Bri said of the experience, “We were thrilled the school chose to name the media center after her. The school was such a huge part of her life and she took so much pride in her work there, she would have been so honored. The impact she made was huge. I don't think she knew how many lives she touched. It makes missing her a little easier when you know so many others are missing her, too. She was so loved. Chandler read, "Oh the Places You'll Go!" By Dr Seuss. We brought our copy from home to read, but a couple days later Bo checked the same book out from the library. When I went to read it to him, there were post it notes inside the front cover and a couple notations made inside the book, all written in Carmen's handwriting. I think she may have read it at a graduation. It was really special to see that.”

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And Carmen Kent did go places. She loved to travel and used her beloved books as her own personal travel guide. She was a veracious student and learned from her books. Sara Crawford was a fellow teacher at Kit Carson with Carmen for many years. She shared her thoughts about Carmen, “I’ve never known anyone who could tell a story or read one better than Carmen. In my first few years of teaching, I was blessed to have a room connected to the library. My favorite time of day was when she would read to her classes. Sometimes I would stop teaching, and my students and I would just listen to her. She made books come alive! I was always amazed at the amount of books she read. She could give the most amazing book talks and was able to motivate even the most reluctant readers to want to pick up a book and dive in. Through her many travels, Carmen brought back pictures, mementoes, and stories to share with her students. We were all blessed by the knowledge she freely shared with us. Carmen made sure all of our students knew what a privilege and responsibility it was to have so many wonderful books at their fingertips. Students were taught to handle library books like the treasures they are. Without a doubt, it is so very fitting for our new library and media center to be dedicated to Carmen. I’m sure she is smiling down and telling stories to anyone who will listen!”

Carmen certainly did capture the imagination of the hundreds of students who came through the Kit Carson School Library from November 1983 to May 2016. Senior Cally Booker-Rady shared that, “Mrs. Kent was the true example of a kind soul. No matter what, if you were her student, she found a way to make you feel special. I remember going to library skills as an elementary student and feeling so scared (everything was scary at that age). Then she would start reading to us. Everything changed instantly. There will never be a reader as wonderful as Mrs. Kent. The voices she would use gave every character a personality and I just remember how much joy would fill the room as she read to us all.”

Cally’s little sister Paige, a current freshman at the high school, also mentioned how thrilled she was while listening to Mrs. Kent read books to them, “She brought books to life when reading them. I remember being so in tuned when she read like I was living in the book itself. The different voices and even the facial expressions made everything authentic. Mrs. Kent changed the way I view books and stories. She always made them special.”

Transfer student Janea Voss had a different perspective on Carmen. Her perspective comes from a deep thankfulness that Carmen was in her life when she transferred to Kit Carson as a sixth grader. Janea says when Mrs. Kent got sick, she oftentimes would go visit her in the hospital. She thinks the dedication of the school’s new media center is a much-deserved recognition although she believes her beloved librarian would be humbled, “The demolition of the old school and the building of the new school was bittersweet for the majority of the community, alumni, and present students. It is my belief that Mrs. Kent would love the new library; her love of reading did not stem from one library, rather she extended her love of reading to anyplace she went and anyone she came into contact with. Although Mrs. Kent was humble concerning the legacy she left, I believe the dedication of the library to Mrs. Kent is well deserved.”

The new media center at Kit Carson school is full of modern technology tools including a 3D printer, Cricut, heat press, poster printer, Lego wall, vinyl printer, drones and robots. The library has come a long way since Carmen Kent walked into the Kit Carson School Library in 1983 and started sharing her love of books. However, some things just don’t change. Besides the fancy new 21st Century learning tools there are still books---hundreds and hundreds of books.

A fitting quote is engraved on the recognition plaque hanging on the wall. It captures the true essence of what Carmen Kent understood, ““There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” --Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

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