All endings are beginnings


It never fails to be true. Life happens. Not always the way you planned.


Most of you know I spent three weeks in South Africa this summer visiting the schools where we send books for our Books to Africa project. The trip was life-changing for me. In both of the impoverished schools I visited, the only books the children had to read were the ones we have sent. The impact our students are making on the education of these children is real.

If you would like to read more, I published a post on the Bulldog Reader Blog The principal at Pula Madibogo Primary School  also published a video on YouTube about our experience there together.  I left South Africa inspired to do more for these children.

Emirates Airlines A380 by cool images786 (4)[1]

On the way home however, my life took an unexpected turn. I received an invitation to come back to teach in the Issaquah School district. When you are squished like a sardine in the back of a plane for 14 hours, you have a lot of time to think. I love teaching at Bell. I love the students. I love the staff. I love the parents and Bell community. Sadly, one thing stands in the way – my commute. Driving to school from Sammamish has been taking up to 1 hour each way. The day after I returned home, I applied for the position.


Last week I accepted the offer to be the new librarian at Cougar Ride Elementary School. They are looking forward to adopting the Books to Africa program into their school activities as well. As sad as I am to leave Bell, the decision to teach in my home district feels right. If circumstances were different, I wouldn’t even be writing this blog post.

Working with all of you at Bell has made the days and years fly by. You have always supported my ideas to make the library a great place for kids to learn. Bell has a fantastic community of readers. I learned the ropes of librarianship at Bell and will cherish the memories from my years there.

I know another librarian will come to Bell who is the perfect match for the school. This person will be your new beginning. After all, all stories have a beginning, middle and an end. I hope the Books to Africa will continue at Bell as well.

Thank you for being part of my story. Check back to this blog too. It may make some kind of transition, but it’s not ending.

Mrs. Hembree

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15 thoughts on “All endings are beginnings

    • Thank you Grace for understanding how difficult a decision like this can be. Starting over is not easy. Besides learning names, it’s about getting to really know students and establishing reading trust. It will happen in time.

  1. What an exciting and eventful summer. I have followed your work with Books to Africa and you should be rightfully proud of all you have achieved – well done. Congratulations on your new job… and I hope you decide to keep up the blogging!

    Mrs Monaghan @ A Room with a View

    • Dear Mrs. Monaghan,
      Thanks for visiting from England again. I plan to continue blogging, but I sure wish I had a blog name that wasn’t school specific. I’m going from the home of the “bulldog” mascot, to the “Bobcats”. What do I do? I’m open to ideas!!!
      Mrs. Hembree

  2. Congratulation on you move, Julie. Working close to where you live makes such a tremendous difference each and every day. Best wishes, Colette

  3. Dear Mrs. Hembree,

    I am sorry to here you are leaving. Over the years you have effected the story of thousands of kids. I am so grateful I got to have a librarian like you. I am so happy I got to be part of books to Africa, battle of the books and much more.
    Your new school is very very lucky,

    From Josa

  4. Julie you are really stretching my skills. Never replied in a blog. Just want to give you a big Hovis Hug. Bell will not be the same. Moving on is part of our life. You have done great things at Bell and now a new school will share your greatness. Please don’t be a stranger. The best to you. Just think you can sleep in.

    • Kathy,
      You AMAZE me! YES!!! You replied to a blog post. This absolutely made my day! Change isn’t easy as we both know, but different isn’t bad either. I won’t be a stranger, don’t worry! I don’t know about the sleeping in part. It never happened all summer. 🙁

  5. Dear Mrs. Hembree,

    The kids at Cougar Ride Elementary are going to be very lucky to have a libary teacher like you. I wish you the best. You will be missed at Bell.

    Your former student,

    • Dear Ersah,
      Oh, I already miss you as you go off to middle school! Thank you for such a kind thing to say. We have had some great conversations about books over the years. I found the cutest photo of you reading to the doggies WAY back long ago at Bell. Now look where you are going! Did you read anything great this summer? I have to admit, I didn’t read as much as normal. I am really looking forward to reading the new book by Katherine Applegate – Chrenshaw. It comes out on September 22nd.
      Please keep in touch on this blog. I’m going to keep it going. It may end up being the Bulldog/Bobcat blog. Is that okay?
      Keep reading,
      Mrs. Hembree

  6. Dear Mrs Hembree,

    Congratulations this will be another wonderful journey. I do agree with you when you say every story has a beginning a middle and an end. Somehow I know your story is going to be amazing with wonderful happy chapters.
    How lucky is this school to have you. I know you have made such a difference to many children and bloggers and that is a gift.
    Enjoy your new road to your new school.

    From your pal down under,

    • Dear AA,
      Our story together has changed in so many ways through the years. Can you imagine that we met when BB was in 2nd grade? Now, she’s a teenager! How is that for amazing?
      I hope that I will be able to work with this new set of students and take them to where they want to go. People like you fuel my energy and keep me going! Thank you for your years of support. Please give BB a hug for me and give a doggie cookie to that special doggie of yours!
      You WA friend,
      Mrs. Hembree

  7. Hi Julie,

    Congratulations on your new position!

    I can appreciate how difficult your decision must have been as you have invested your heart and soul in your library at Bell. Your school community has been so enriched having you as their librarian and you certainly will not be forgotten!

    Enjoy your new school and the exciting opportunities and challenges it will bring you (and your shorter commute to school!). I’m looking forward to following the next chapter of your story ….

    Kim 😃📚

  8. Just came back from Meet and Greet and Bell and saw the new librarian’s name- what a shocker!
    We will miss you!!! (from Gavin and Ferris)

    However, I know you are still in the neighborhood so feel free to stop into Sammamish Library anytime. Also, sign up your school for The Global Reading Challenge with your local KCLS library (Battle of the Books) KCLS sponsors for ISD. I understand your decision to be closer to home, and Cougar Ridge is gaining the BEST librarian ever!

  9. I’ve just discovered your blog, and after posts like this, I am very happy to read that you plan you continue writing. I hope to use your insight to help me on my journey as a future educator.

    Best of luck in your new position and I really do hope the Books to Africa continues at your previous school. Great program!

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