Fellowship Affords Yough Librarian Chance to Add to Book Research
Junker, Guy, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
While dressed as Abraham Lincoln, librarian Linda Kustra talks about this Union flag with 33 stars with kindergarten students at H.W. Good Elementary School.
In the days leading up to a trip to the Land of Lincoln, Linda "Casey" Kustra is striving to make the most of every minute.
"Some of the materials that are there you literally have to make appointments to see," said Kustra. "There's no lending out of this material."
A librarian at H.W. Good Elementary School in the Yough School District, Kustra is among 52 educators across the country who have been awarded a 2007 Horace Mann-Abraham Lincoln Fellowship. Representing Pennsylvania, Kustra will travel to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill., next month to study the life and legacy of the nation's 16th president.
The fellowship includes round-trip transportation, lodging and most meals. While there, teachers will participate in workshops, travel to historic sites and attend special events over a period of five days.
Kustra, who is writing a children's book about Lincoln as an inventor, plans to stay longer to conduct research.
"I said, 'Oh, here's my chance to finally do the research that I want to do,'" said Kustra, who has been rereading all her research she's conducted in the past on Lincoln.
Kustra, a native of Oklahoma City who now lives in North Huntingdon, purchased a new backpack to accommodate her laptop computer. She's also filling her pockets with change to make photocopies of documents.
"I'll look like a geek, I'm sure," she said, laughing.
Kustra said she will feel like a kid in a candy store. "This is more fun than going to Disney World."
In her essay to apply for the fellowship, Kustra wrote: "To view and study additional artifacts and experience Lincoln's life at the institute would add fervor, insight and creativity to inspire new lessons and programs."
Mentioning Lincoln's patent "Buoying Vessels Over Shoals," Kustra explained that Lincoln found a method to prevent steamboats from getting stuck in the water.
"I'm interested in seeing the places that affected him in his life," Kustra said. "They're going to take us to New Salem, so I want to see the gristmill that he got stuck on twice."
She explained he came up with his invention while he was a congressman on leave from the House of Representatives.
"He had to travel from Washington, D.C., through the Great Lakes and back to Springfield, so he came up with the idea near Detroit when he saw a steamboat stuck and somebody put a bunch of barrels under it," she said.
"Then when he came back, he had to whittle out a sample of it for the patent office," Kustra said. …