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Jack London Elementary School librarian Yvonne Lackey, of Martinez, is photographed in Antioch, Calif., on Monday, June 10, 2013. Lackey was awarded the 2013 Antioch Unified School District Classified Employee of the Year award. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

ANTIOCH -- "Read her like a book." The idiom, with a slight pun intended, actually seems to suit Yvonne Lackey.

Her passion for reading and all things bookish is clear -- making her a lovely fit for her role as library media tech at Antioch's Jack London Elementary.

And, much like the spine of a book, Lackey keeps it all together for her young readers.

It is this excitement and all-out give that helped earn her district's Classified Employee of the Year.

Lackey said she was "highly honored to be recognized among so many deserving candidates. I am happy to have won, not only for myself, but for my family and for everyone at Jack London." She began her Antioch Unified School District career 17 years ago as a classified substitute in 1993, moving on to assistant-special education. After nine years as a classroom aide, she felt the pull to be somewhere else, to be where she could give her all.

She tapped into her love for reading and books -- and found her fit was in the library. In 2007, she was promoted to her current role.

"I found the (passion) stronger and I wanted to share that with the children to inspire them to become just as passionate as I am," Lackey said.

Principal Debra Harrington said, "She is so deserving of the recognition. Yvonne brings enthusiasm and team work to Jack London. She has a love for books and students that just radiates on our campus. She wants to make real life connections between students and the books they read.


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"She tries to give students a first-hand experience when possible and, if not, she recreates through pictures, artifacts and simulated activities. Whether it's a turtle migration, camping, parades, Chinese New Year or any other type of holiday, Yvonne wants students to not only understand but to feel and experience the activity." She shares her joy of books by making the "library a fun place for children."

"Working in the library allows me to use my creativity to design weekly themes to go along with the books I read to the children with the hope of motivating them to read," Lackey said. After years in her ultimate reading room, she has plenty of good memories.

"One of my favorites is when the children and I use our imaginations to pretend we are on a camping trip. As the children sit on sleeping bags around a campfire that we have our marshmallows roasting on, I read them 'A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee' by Chris Van Dusen."

Harrington said Lackey has many special offerings for the students. "She has always been proactive in bringing authors to our school. We have had one or two every year. The author will do three student assemblies, have lunch with teachers and do a book signing for students. Each author has been of excellent quality, and students have thoroughly enjoyed it."

But her favorite aspect about Lackey? "Her spirit of enthusiasm and love for people."

In addition to Lackey, other classified employees honored this year's runners-up Cecilia Garcia, instructional assistant-special education from Mission Elementary; Arleen Mattson, school office assistant from Belshaw Elementary; and Gayla Miner, school administrative assistant from Dallas Ranch Middle.

Contact Trine Gallegos at trineg@att.net.