Chris Rush was the Preschool and Lower School librarian at Packer for 33 years.
What brought you to Packer?
Before I joined Packer, I was a children’s librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library where I managed the Pre-K through sixth grade programming. I went on to develop a Pre-K called “The Child’s Place” that encouraged reading readiness and supported parents and caregivers.This experience gave me a strong background in working with preschool children. Through the public library, I was given a Lila Wallace grant to conduct reading readiness workshops throughout the library branches After that, the network of independent school librarians pointed me in the direction of Packer.
Having worked for years in the public library in underserved neighborhoods, I’ll admit I had a hard time shifting to working for an independent school. I’m a public school kid, after all. But the more I looked at Packer, and the more I got to know its community of wonderful teachers and students, the more confident I became in my choice. Packer has been the best possible place for me, and I’ve loved my time here.
What was it like to work in the school that your children attended?
My husband, Ken, was already at Packer when I began working in the library, and my daughter was beginning in the PreK-3’s. I hardly ever saw Ken, who worked in the Upper School, but the fact that we were all able to be a part of the same school community for so many years was special. It’s a time that I cherished.
However, I did find that teaching in a school that your children attend means that everyone is much quicker to tell you when your child has done something wrong than they are with non-faculty parents. I still remember the time my daughter was dancing in the locker room and accidentally kicked out the locker room window – I let Ken take that call.
Describe a favorite or memorable moment in your classroom at Packer.
Truthfully, choosing a favorite moment is not easy, because the simple day-to-day was so special. The laughter, working with so many of my friends, teaching such wonderful students – those little moments are the ones I will remember forever.
Being offered the Babbott Chair of Literature and the Arts for the 2004-05 school year was certainly a highlight, too. I gave my lecture on the Japanese-American internment, a topic close to my heart. The research I put into the lectures was such a joy, and it’s something I will never forget.
What are you looking forward to most in retirement?
I don’t like to say retiring – I like to say, “Going to the next chapter.” A few months ago, I would have said that my first priority was travel, but obviously that’s on hold for now.
Mostly, I plan to prioritize time with my family. My daughter works for a charter school, and her husband works at Spence – they’re busy. They have two children, and I want to be more available to help out.
Also, the charter school where my daughter works meets in the building of a public school, which needs additional support. I’m considering volunteering there – possibly in the library, doing story times.
At the end of the day, I’m most excited about the flexibility my next chapter will provide.
If you would like to submit well-wishes to Chris, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.