Leslie Cartier | Movers & Shakers 2020–Change Agents

As an attorney for six years, Leslie Cartier found herself seeking out opportunities to teach and realized that education—specifically, school librarianship—was her true calling.

Sidsel Bech-Petersen

CURRENT POSITION

Teacher Librarian, C.W. Baker High School, Baldwinsville, NY

DEGREE

MS, Library and Information Science—School Media, 2008; JD, 1999; both Syracuse University

AWARDS

Soaring with Excellence Super Librarian Award, Central New York School Librarians, 2018; Cartier was on School Library Journal's first-ever longlist for School Librarian of the Year

FOLLOW

@lccartier; bakerlibrary.orggemssummercamp.com

Photo by Jennifer Fasulo

Polishing GEMS

As an attorney for six years, Leslie Cartier found herself seeking out opportunities to teach and realized that education—specifically, school librarianship—was her true calling.

Now a high school librarian, her days are devoted to education—from teaching media literacy to arranging author visits to co-teaching classes.

But Cartier is also committed to students beyond the library. Aware that as girls get older, their involvement in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) tends to drop, in 2016 Cartier and school librarian Lindsay Cesari developed the GEMS Girls Summer Camp (now GEMS+) for tween girls. In 2018, Cartier and colleague Jessica Regitano decided to bring together the mostly suburban GEMS+ girls with the Somali community in Syracuse. The two groups, 40 GEMS+ and some 15 Somali girls, would build relationships through participation in STEAM activities. Cartier reached out to Refugee and Immigrant Self Empowerment (RISE), an organization that helps new immigrants find their footing, to partner on the project.

Activities included chemistry, food science, 3-D printing, and video storytelling. The girls from each camp created and shared Flipgrid videos about themselves over the course of a week; then they met at the Girls Gala, where they all received gift bags full of STEAM-related products that girls at both camps had made. The experience sharpened campers’ skills, but more than that, it bridged a gap between the mostly white GEMS+ girls and a new community of refugees. The excitement was palpable for the girls and their parents alike.

"I…love creating meaningful opportunities for students where none previously existed," says Cartier. "Having students see me serve in many different roles makes me more approachable and accessible." 

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