Since Rosemary Knapp announced her retirement earlier this year, she’s been asked the following question more times then she can remember:“What are you going to do when you retire?”
And her answer?
“Whatever I want to: Travel, spend more time taking care of my grandson, exercise more regularly and read more grown-up books,” Knapp said. “About 80 percent of my reading for the last several years has been young adult books. I’m looking forward to more grown-up books.”
Knapp was hired by the Camas School District in the fall of 1981.
She taught Vietnamese refugees English as a Second Language. In 1983, the half-time librarian at Camas High School retired, so Knapp stepped in to fill her shoes.
And fill them she did. Camas School District Superintendent Mike Nerland, who is the former CHS principal, describes Knapp as a person with a love for teaching and learning.
“Rosemary’s energy, enthusiasm and passion for education will be sorely missed by all of us in the Camas School District,” he said. “Her love for teaching and helping students succeed has always been her priority throughout the many hours she spent with colleagues designing lessons that embed quality print, virtual and digital resources to make learning impactful and relevant for students.
“Rosemary’s gift of providing her students with great literature and fostering a love of reading will last a lifetime,” he continued. “She has created a library that is truly the center of learning at CHS and an environment that has allowed students to think, ask questions and explore.”
Knapp, 61, earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Whitman College in Walla Walla, and a master’s in English at Washington State University. She and her husband Roger have two sons, Elliot and Andy, a daughter-in-law, Darin, and grandson, Dylan.
Both of her sons graduated from CHS and Whitman College. At a recent retirement party, they joked about being “mortified” that their mother worked at the school, but Knapp said they were always very gracious.
“I think it was enjoyable for them because I wasn’t a regular classroom teacher that their friends complained about when they got a bad grade on a test,” she said. “And it was nice for them if they forgot their lunch money or if there was an emergency, they could go down and Mom would take care of things.”
In addition to being a teacher-librarian, Knapp has also been the Key Club advisor for 20 years.
“I will really miss being involved with it on a daily basis,” she said. “I always thought it was a great opportunity to connect with the kids and get to know them.”
Nerland also mentioned Knapp’s involvement with Key Club.
“Key Club is the largest service club at Camas High School and because of (Knapp’s) leadership our students have participated in many community service projects and most importantly, have learned about the impact and importance of giving back.”
Knapp said she’s always thought of her job in three different ways, as a teacher-librarian who teaches information and literacy skills, as a reading promoter and as an information manager.
“I collaborate with my staff and teach the students,” she said. “I’ll miss connecting kids with books, and talking about what they’ve read. Since teacher-librarians are not classroom teachers, we need to make people aware of what our role is. We feel at CHS that we have tremendous support from the School Board and administrators.”
Karen Nicholson, a library technician, said she is “honored” to have worked with Knapp.
“She is amazing and extremely dedicated as a teacher and as a librarian,” Nicholson said. “She keeps up on all of the hot young adult fiction, and is an endless source of book recommendations for the students. She is also a huge advocate to get kids reading and into the library.
“Rosemary goes above and beyond as far as research help. I feel honored to have worked with her. I have learned so much from her, and she has become a good friend. I cannot say enough about how sad I am to see her go, but how happy I am that she gets to start a new chapter in her life.”
At the recent Camas High School graduation, senior Atalie Allen spoke of the impact Knapp had on the students.
“She is the most hard-working woman I have ever had the honor of meeting,” she said. “And if it wasn’t for her efforts, many of us may not be here tonight. She has had a huge impact on many lives.”