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White Plains Librarian Makes Learning Fun

Managing a room of 15 or more toddlers is never the easiest task. But when singer, musician, teacher, and White Plains librarian Lori Siegel straps on her acoustic guitar and breaks out her sack of egg-shaped shakers, the mass of children snap to attention, ready to learn.Siegel, who performs as Lori Jo, travels throughout Westchester County performing at local libraries, nursery schools, and day-care centers to help children up to six years old learn through play.When she’s not strumming the guitar, Siegel also works at the White Plains library for three-hour shifts as a reading coach, teaching students how to read and write better.“I love children,” she said. “We need to do everything we can to help kids, and that’s why I do what I do.”She travels the county performing her self-established Music and Movement project, singing songs and playing games with any children and parents who attend her sessions.During her Music and Movement activities, Siegel, a resident of Croton-on-Hudson, only refers to the children as “friends” as she welcomes them into the room.As a former classroom teacher for grades ranging from kindergarten to second grade, Siegel said she disagreed with the way many schools worked as far as educating kids.“Kids don’t have enough play in their education today,” Siegel said about how schools teach. “The system isn’t in great shape. Schools aren’t considering what is most appropriate for kids’ development.”While teaching kindergarten, Siegel said some of the practices she had to incorporate weren’t benefiting the children, such as writing personal narratives.“I’ve never had to write a personal narrative,” she said. “Why did I have to teach kindergartners how to do it?”Ellyn Steiner-Greenspan grew up with Siegel and graduated with her from Harrison High School. Both her daughters, now 18 and 22, grew up with Siegel as a close friend and role model.“Lori can relate to everyone because she has the education and the experience,” Steiner-Greenspan said. “She can make a flower grow.”Steiner-Greenspan said Lori is different from other children’s performers because she does the work out of passion.“Others only do it for the money,” she said. “Lori can work through such chaos, managing rooms full of kids and their parents, and does it with such ease.”Siegel has an extensive background in education, with a graduate degree in teaching and an undergrad degree in psychology. She has also lived in Canada and Israel; both places she said influence her in her work.

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