Carlos Manuel Costa of the BHS Wellness Department talks to the group of old and young offering ideas about how to identify and deal with stress.
Steve Fowler made Alphabits a popular activity during his 11 years as Bellingham’s children’s librarian.
By KEN HAMWEY,
Bulletin Staff Writer
Mention the name “Steve Fowler’’ to young parents in Bellingham and the reaction probably would be a pause and some head-scratching. But, say “Mr. Steve,’’ and the reaction likely would produce smiles and some wide-eyed grins.
The 43-year-old Fowler, better known as “Mr. Steve,’’ was Bellingham’s children’s librarian for the last 11 years. The Montville, Conn., native resigned from that role last November, leaving behind a legacy that enriched the lives of countless children who not only admired his uplifting character, but also his relentless and sincere desire to entertain them.
Fowler, his wife Angelica, and their nine-month-old daughter Eliana have moved to Summerville, S.C., a community 20 miles west of Charleston with a population of 50,000.
“We prefer a warmer climate, and we found a neighborhood that provides the type of lifestyle I want for my family,’’ Fowler said. “I’ll miss Bellingham. I gave 100 percent to the role I had, and I received so much more in return. I’m grateful for the support of the families, the community, the library staff and its trustees.’’
Before arriving in Bellingham in July, 2011, Fowler was the children’s librarian in two Connecticut communities — first in West Haven and then in Thomaston. Innovative and creative, Fowler introduced many activities while in Bellingham, but two of the most popular were Alphabits and the Cartwheel Book Awards.
“Alphabits is a weekly story time that involves a letter of the alphabet,’’ he noted. “So, on a particular week we’d focus on the letter ‘I’ for example. We’d talk about things like ice cream and ice skating. Then, our activities and crafts (paper exhibits) would deal with ice cream and ice skating.’’
The Cartwheel Book Awards was a program whose name was derived from the library’s outdoor statue (a girl doing a cartwheel with her books on the ground).
“The program was for kids 8-12 years old,’’ Fowler said. “I’d choose 10 books to read through the course of a year. We’d then vote for their favorite book, the book with the best ending, the one with their favorite characters and the best-written book.
“When the results were in, we contacted the winning authors, who later sent us video acceptance speeches and thank yous. We also videotaped an assembly of the kids announcing the awards. Our thanks go to Lynn Scornavacca of Silver Lake Productions for taping that program.’’
Fowler’s future will not be a fourth stint as a children’s librarian. He’s got three different avenues to pursue.
“I want to be flexible and be able to spend time with my family,’’ he emphasized. “I plan to write children’s books, entertain at children’s birthday parties, and I want to offer the Alphabits activity to families at the national level.’’ Fowler’s website is: abcswithmrsteve.com.
The children of Bellingham, the community and Fowler combined to form a very caring partnership. That was obvious and also quite visible.
“I appreciated the community because it cared so much about education and the library’s role in fostering education,’’ he said. “And, I liked being around children, because you never know what to expect. There’s no pretense with kids, you know what’s on their minds, and they’re fun to be around.
“I also liked watching kids grow and seeing them in different facets of their lives. It was fun to see them transition from story time to craft programs and then to book clubs.’’
One very pleasant memory “Mr. Steve’’ has of his 11-year stay at the library involved a two-year old boy named Aaron. “He came up to me after story time and asked me what I do for work,’’ Fowler recalled. “I appreciated the question, because what I did at Bellingham’s library never felt like a job.’’
After graduating from Montville High, Fowler enrolled at Eastern Connecticut State where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English. His master’s degree is from Southern Connecticut State where he majored in library science.
Fowler demonstrated a genuine passion as Bellingham’s children’s librarian. Children and their parents not only enjoyed his talented style, but they also admired him because of his caring nature.
“Mr. Steve’’ may be in South Carolina but he’ll always be remembered in Bellingham.