On May 14, Livsey Elementary School in Tucker will host a retirement celebration for Berberich, media specialist for the school. Students, former students and parents are invited to the event, which will be from 3 to 5 p.m. Berberich has been with the DeKalb County School District for 22 years. The school is at 4137 Livsey Road.
After attending Wheaton College and the University of Illinois, Berberich used her background in elementary education, English education and library science to earn a bachelor’s and masters of library science from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. She said she recalled her first education job in the rural farmlands of Illinois at Prairieview District, covering kindergarten through eighth-grade in Flatville, Royal and Stanton Centers.
Berberich and her husband Steve moved with their three daughters to Atlanta in 1983. Their daughters went to Sagamore Hills Elementary and Druid Hills High School in DeKalb. Today Caitlin, a Druid Hills valedictorian and University of Georgia graduate, is a legal aid attorney for Migrant Workers out of Nashville, Tenn. Lydia is a math and science middle school teacher, formerly at Immaculate Heart of Mary School and now living in Maryland. Kendra is a second-grade teacher at Fernbank Elementary. Steve is now a retired Atlanta architect.
After substitute teaching for two years while the children were young, Berberich returned full-time as the media specialist at Livsey 22 years ago in the 1992-93 school year. She is only the second media specialist at the school. The first was there 21 years from the opening of the school. While serving the students of Livsey, Berberich has worked under five principals.
Berberich has seen the school go from housing grades kindergarten through seventh-grade to kindergarten through sixth and kindergarten through fifth-grade. The school population has wavered between 325 to 420 students. Livsey has been rumored for closing on several occasions but rallied with the emphasis on excellent education.
Each school year, Berberich learned the names of all Livsey students as they came to visit the media center. She knew the reading level of students and the favorite books, authors and genres that many students enjoy. Many parents have used the media center as well. Berberich witnessed the transformation of the library from using a card catalogue to the web-based Destiny system for locating books in the media center.
Berberich has been an outspoken voice promoting the love of reading by insuring the Livsey media center has an open, welcoming atmosphere. She has managed the center’s growth and expanded horizons for many children and adults in countless ways. Berberich has enthusiastically done whatever it took to encourage students to read, research and be lifelong learners. She has dressed as a mermaid, the Statue of Liberty and even a Mars alien.
She has led book parades, floated aloft in a hot-air balloon and tracked Iditarod races. In addition to keeping Livsey’s growing collection of books — between 12,000 and 13,000 — and materials easily accessible, she has been in charge of the Spelling Bee, the Geography Bee and the Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl team. Berberich has taught and assisted with research projects, learned the operation of new technology and sponsored annual book swaps for students.
To help teachers stay current with educational news, she maintained a professional library and a book cart with gently-used books for teachers to share with each other. With her smile and willingness to serve students, she has been a friend and mentor to many. The media center is a favorite place for Livsey students who enjoy hearing the books read aloud and the pleasure of selecting their next book to take home to read.
Berberich was the teacher of the year for Livsey in 2004. She will be missed as a friend, colleague and leader who quietly led by example. She will leave Livsey’s media center as a well-organized place for learning, growing and reading for the joy of reading. She said her future plans include plenty of time for reading, playing with her four grandchildren and traveling.