Page creates safe, comfortable space

Librarian earns employee of the year award

Lamya Saade, Opinion Editor

Librarian Jean Page was selected as Classified Employee of the Year. Before she came to FUHS, Page worked in a mental hospital and a Botox lab as a medical librarian. (Photo by Alia Noll)

Whether it’s creating an LGBTQ+ pride section, adding pianos, or extending library hours, Jean Page has made the Fullerton High School library inclusive. And it’s her effort to make students feel comfortable that has earned her the honor of being selected as this year’s Classified Employee of the Year.

Page says a library should be more than just a place to study.

“Libraries have evolved, so it’s not just a place for housing books anymore. To me, it’s a center for everybody,” Page said. “If you want to relax, you can do that. If you want to eat downstairs, you can do that during lunch. We have cubicles downstairs where you can be more focused. So we have different areas and it’s more of a social place than a traditional library.”

Page says her mother, an elementary school teacher, introduced her to the world of literature, and reading taught her how to focus her attention. Although Page was never officially diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), she says she lived with all the symptoms.

“I think reading for pleasure will help you in all of your coursework—with your grammar, with your writing skills, and broaden your knowledge base,” Page said. “For me, reading is very relaxing and it takes my mind someplace that is away from all our worries. Back when I was younger, reading helped me relax and channel my focus on one thing, so my mind wasn’t always charging around.”

Jean Page along with her dog Sadie. (Photo courtesy of Jean Page)

Page frequently updates Fullerton’s book collection after scouring book lists and searching for high-starred reviews to encourage students to read. Senior Kylee Gong felt overwhelmed writing her Extended Essay for the International Baccalaureate program, but Page was extremely patient and resourceful with her book recommendations.

“[IB coordinator Mark] Henderson always said that Ms. Page was our best friend for our extended essay, which is 4,000 words,” Gong said. “We definitely wouldn’t have been able to finish it without her. She helped us find online sources and we always left the library with two or three books to help us with our research.” 

Page also maintains a vast collection of FUHS historical records.

I try to make kids aware that we do have a vast history here. It’s really interesting how things have changed,” Page said. “We have archives in the back of years and years of memorabilia, old newspapers and every single yearbook. We have canoes upstairs because there used to be a club where they built canoes and they would race them.”

Page earned her Bachelor’s in psychology and Master’s in counseling before working in a psychiatric hospital in Santa Ana. However, after volunteering at her children’s school library, Page rediscovered her passion for reading. She went back to school to get a second Master’s in Library and Information Science, all while raising her kids as a single mother.

“I had all these different jobs but I was struggling to get by,” Page said. “I only took one or two classes a semester, so it took five years. My son was with me full time so I was responsible for taking [him and his sister] to their after school activities and trying to do school and work full time.”

Librarian Jean Page enjoys spending time with Shay, her 1-year-old granddaughter. (Photo courtesy of Jean Page)

At one point, Page worked for Allergan, a pharmaceutical company, as a medical librarian.

I made a lot of money but I despised my job,” Page said. “I would go into the different databases and discover all these experiments they were doing on monkeys with Botox and they paralyzed monkeys’ eyes. I hated it. It was awful. I said, ‘I can’t do this.’ Money is important, but it’s not everything.”

Though she has transitioned careers, Page still finds her background in psychology helpful for aiding students when she notices they are stressed or struggling. Senior Angel Wang recalls how Page was empathetic during an unexpected panic attack.

“Junior year, I had to pick up textbooks for a class so I went into the library. I ended up just breaking down crying. Ms. Page immediately stopped what she was doing and came to check up on me,” Wang said. “She was super patient and nice and listened to everything I had to say. Her giving me her attention, patience, and compassion made a deep impact on me.”