Library aide Amberson and therapy dog Parker retire


Cass Melo

After 24 years, Librarian Joann Amberson retires from Algonquin alongside the library’s therapy dog, Parker.

Cass Melo, Assistant Opinion Editor

Library Aide Joann Amberson, owner of the library’s therapy dog, Parker, will retire at the end of this school year, after over two decades at Algonquin. 

Amberson, who has worked at Algonquin for the past 24 years, started as a secretary within the Special Education department for 12 years and then worked as a library aide for another dozen years. In March of 2020, she was given the opportunity to introduce the first therapy dog, Parker, to Algonquin. Parker has since become a beloved part of ARHS for many community members.

Since Amberson’s introduction of Parker to the library, seven more therapy dogs have joined the Algonquin community. Many students, such as freshman Jill Belniak, appreciate how much they’ve connected with Parker and Amberson.

“When I found out [Amberson and Parker] were leaving I was so sad,” Belniak said. “Along with Parker, I’ve gotten close to the [library staff] as well. I know a lot more about them and they know a lot more about me, and I’m really sad that they are leaving.”

Amberson finds the service dog program extremely valuable and loves watching the joy Parker has brought to ARHS.

“The best part of this job is seeing all of the students and seeing how excited they get when they see Parker,” Amberson said. “There are people who come in just to see him and to calm down. I think Parker brings a sense of calm and acceptance to this room.”

Librarian Kimberly Honey appreciates the work Amberson has put into the library over the years.

“She’s done so much here since she started in 1998,” Honey said. “It’s been really great to work with a friend like her every day.”

Amberson is sure the library will continue to thrive and has enjoyed working with Honey.

“[Honey’s] always the same temperament,” Amberson said. “It’s been nice to come in here and have her upbeat personality every day here.”

Amberson isn’t entirely sure of her plans after retirement, but she hopes to spend more time with family.

“I will definitely hang out with my grandchildren,” Amberson said. “I have an almost one year old granddaughter and my daughter is pregnant, due in September.”

Honey is sad about Amberson’s departure.

“It’s a real loss,” Honey said. “She keeps the library running like a well-oiled machine so next year will be a little clunky without her.”