PHOTO: Poppy Krump poses for a photo at the Brentwood Library on April 10, 2019 in Brentwood, Tennessee / Photo by Rachael Long
By RACHAEL LONG
After Poppy Krump graduated from college at the University of Virginia last year, she asked herself one question: “Where can I see myself doing the most good?”
Now, she’s finding that her answer involves working with Brentwood teenagers to create a place where they feel safe to be who they are.
The Triune-native was recently hired as the library’s new teen program coordinator, a position Krump said the library has had before. Now, she says, library staff is hoping to grow and enhance the program.
“It’s a variety of things from ACT and SAT prep to watching anime,” Krump said. “I mean, it’s all sorts of stuff, whatever they’re interested in, we want to make sure that they can do it here…in a space [where] they can be accepted and [where] they can thrive.”
Library staff recognize that there are some topics teens may not feel comfortable talking about with parents or even friends. That’s where Krump comes in.
“I’m not Mom, I’m not your friend, I’m not your teacher, I’m just Poppy,” Krump said. “And I’m here as an adult figure, but I’m not here to be controlling, I’m not here to tell you what to do. I’m here to give guidance and support when they need it.”
She’s got a background in working with youth through running internship programs. She’s also got a love for libraries, something her mother ingrained in her in youth.
“I worked in libraries all through college, I love libraries,” Krump said. “My mother’s always been on the Library Board, wherever we’ve lived.”
In her new position, Krump develops programming for teens. She says she wants to make sure the activities she adds meet four basic goals: provoking independence, generating excitement, fostering identity and inspiring acceptance.
Krump says the teenage years are a time when identity and self-discovery are just being explored, and for her, finding creative ways to encourage that exploration is crucial.
The group of young people Krump works with regularly have found the library to be a place they can call their own. It’s similar, she says, to the atmosphere of a youth group in the way that it’s open to everyone.
“It provides support and…an expression of who you are, and it provides a place where teens can come and they feel like…they’re independent, that they’re doing something they want to do, that this is their own place,” Krump said.
She says working with young people is something she looks forward to every day because of their energy.
“I literally cannot get enough of them,” Krump said. “They’re so much fun, they’re just like balls of energy that’s just waiting to do something.”
One of the programs which already exists that Krump wants to grow is the Teen Advisory Board (TAB) — an advocacy group for teenagers within the library. She says she hopes to create a sense of volunteerism within the community by identifying interest of the young people she works with and finding creative ways to mold that interest into “making a difference” in the community.
Krump says she’s also starting a bimonthly teen game club, which will kick off this Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. at the library with a game of dungeons and dragons. The group will play other strategy games and snacks will be provided.
She’s never played Dungeons and Dragons before, but Krump says some of the teens expressed that the game is something “they’ve wanted for a long time,” so they took leadership roles to make it happen.
Practice tests for the SAT and ACT standardized tests are offered for free by the library, Krump said, with several other test prep sessions throughout the year.
Krump welcomes community input about the teen program, especially from teenagers and their parents.
“If they feel like there’s a need that’s yet to be filled for their teen or for themselves…come to me and just talk to me about it,” Krump said. “I would love to have more ideas.”
A full list of teen programming and other events can be found on the library’s website calendar here. For more information about the library’s teen program, contact Krump at email@example.com.