The Wenatchee Valley Business World’s “30 Under 35” program last year honored young community leaders from around the region. We tap their thoughts in this Sunday interview series.
Sarah Knox, 28
STEM librarian, North Central Regional Library, Wenatchee School Board member
After attending Wenatchee High School, Knox earned her business administration degree at Gonzaga University in Spokane. She then joined Teach for America and taught at a Somalian refugee school in Phoenix, where she also earned a master’s degree in education. Knox returned to Wenatchee to work at NCRL, where she held two positions — literacy outreach teacher on the Colville Reservation and Children’s Services Manager — before becoming STEM librarian.
Q. What accomplishments are you most proud of?
A. I am proud of all of my accomplishments. One that sticks out is my work with a young student named Hibo. Hibo was a recent Somalian refugee who had just entered the country a few weeks before she started in my classroom. On her first day, she hid under her desk and cried due to her post traumatic stress disorder. She did not speak any English and was terrified of any males over the age of 5. I worked with her before and after school and met her at the Phoenix Public Library on Sundays. By the end of the year, she was the most outgoing student I had. She was reading at a third-grade level and was top of the class in math. The best part, however, was seeing her no longer flinch when a male would talk to her. Of all my accomplishments, helping this young lady will always be one that I treasure.
Q. Who or what has inspired you to be successful?
A. I am inspired by challenges. What makes me stand out is how excited I get when presented with a problem. I love it when I can step into a chaotic situation and find the best solution. When I became the library’s Children’s Services Manager, I had librarians who refused to work together, who were not interested in training and collaboration and who were not invested in providing the best story times possible. There were so many challenges! I sought the position for that reason. I was invigorated at the opportunity to change the culture and the procedures to maximize what the library was capable of. I value efficiency, collaboration, research and development, constant evaluation and continuous feedback. I love being faced with a problem that I can work on with those different priorities. Solving problems is what inspires me, and through that mindset, I will always strive to maximize success.
Q. In what ways can future leaders contribute to the success of their communities?
A. Collaboration between shareholders of all kinds is vital for our community. Bringing people together, informing them and listening to their ideas yields the best results. One brain is never wiser than a committee of informed people. I think that through increased collaboration and feedback we will be able to grow our community’s potential. Leaders also need to be responsive to the needs of the community. They will only know how to serve customers best if they are constantly listening to, and observing, their customers and communities. The opportunities for collaboration that groups like GWATA and the AppleSTEM Network provide are tremendous. So many great things are happening as a result of partnerships and collaboration. It’s exciting to imagine what will happen as our community works together.
— Compiled by Mike Irwin, World staff