Brittnae Smith has worked at the Neshoba County Public Library for the past five years. She was recently tapped as Interim Library Director following the resignation of Jacob Starks, who took a job in Minnesota.
Brittnae Smith has worked at the Neshoba County Public Library for the past five years. She was recently tapped as Interim Library Director following the resignation of Jacob Starks, who took a job in Minnesota.
The Neshoba County Public Library is getting a new director, but you won't have to look very far to find her. Brittnae Smith, a library employee for the past five years, is taking on the role as Interim Library Director. 

With an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts from East Central Community College and a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Mississippi University for Women, she is up for the task.

She is excited for the opportunity, stating that even though the library already has several ongoing programs, she has plans to add more. She feels that adding more programs for kids and adults would be a step in the right direction, so be on the lookout for new things happening at the library.

Brittnae says she's open to suggestions for new programs to be held at the library. "You always have to find something people like," she says.

Some might think the pressure of being a library director would be too much for a twenty-five year old, but she's accustomed to being in leadership roles. When she was a senior at Neshoba Central High School, she was the drum major in the band. It was no big deal for her to lead the band for their half-time performances during football games.

Currently, Brittnae leads the "Reading Academy" which is an after school program held at the library. The intention behind the program was originally to help improve vocabulary and reading skills in elementary age students. Brittnae says that those improvements are visible, but an unintentional positive benefit of the program is the social skills the students have acquired since the Reading Academy began in the summer of 2019.

When it comes to kids, it is evident that Brittnae loves to see them learn and excel while having fun doing so. The petting zoo that was at "A Very Library Christmas" in the beginning of December was yet another example of this. There were countless kids who came to have cookies with Santa, but ended up spending a lot of their time in the petting zoo.

"I feel that it made a lot of kids happy. There were a lot of kids that had never seen many of those animals."

Among the animals present were two turkeys, two pigs, a pair of fantail doves, a goat, a bunny, and several chickens. 

"It makes them want to come back to the library knowing that we have those programs going on," she adds.

With programs like this one as well as many others, Brittnae is confident that the Neshoba County Public Library can meet the needs of people of all different ages and backgrounds.

Brittnae's parents are Tyrone and LaTonya Smith. She attributes her love of food and baking to her mom and grandmother. She says she learned a lot from them, and now she likes to add her own spin on classics.

A few of her favorite things to make include pies, cobblers, and cinnamon roll pancakes, but she's constantly looking for new recipes to try. 



Sundried Tomato, Spinach, and Cheese Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients:

• Two large chicken breasts

• 3/4 cup Kraft Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette Dressing & Marinade 

• 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes

• 1/2 cup roughly chopped spinach

• 1/2 cup feta cheese

• 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese 



Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 °F.

Marinade the chicken breasts in the dressing for a few hours 

With a large sharp knife, carefully cut the chicken breasts like hot dog buns. Don't cut all the way through.

Open the chicken breasts up where you cut them and layer on the remaining ingredients. It's okay if you can't fit all of it in, you can just leave some out. Just squish in as much as you can. Stick a couple of toothpicks in near the opening to keep it all together.

Heat up a pan and sear the meat on both sides. You can lower the heat and continue cooking the meat on the stove until it's done or, if you're using a cast iron skillet, you can put the pan in the oven at about 375ºF .



Greek Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

• 1 (16-oz) box penne pasta

• 2/3 cup olive oil

• 1/4 cup lemon juice

• 1/2 cup mayonnaise

• 3 Tbsp. Greek seasoning

• 3/4 cup grape tomatoes, cut into halves

• 3/4 cup chopped olives

• 1-1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese (or Parmesan if you’re not a fan of feta)

• 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil



Instructions:

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool.

Whisk together oil, juice, mayonnaise and Greek seasoning in a large bowl. Add cooked pasta, tomatoes, olives,  feta cheese (or parmesan) and basil. Toss to coat.

Cover and refrigerate 8 hours before serving.



Turkey Sausage and Spinach Lasagna

Ingredients

• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 

• 1 cup 1% low-fat milk

• 1 cup unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)

• 1 tablespoon canola oil

• 1 bay leaf

• 1/4 teaspoon  salt

• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

• Cooking spray

• 2 tablespoons water

• 1 (12-ounce) package fresh spinach

• 2 (4-ounce) links hot turkey Italian sausage 

• 1/2 cup chopped onions

• 1 tablespoon minced garlic

• 6 no-boil lasagna noodles

• 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese

• 1 ounce shredded mozzarella cheese

• 1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, grated



Instructions

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through bay leaf) in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a whisk. Cook until thick and bubbly, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in salt and pepper. Spread 1 cup milk mixture in bottom of an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add water and spinach to pan; cook until spinach wilts. Drain spinach. Increase heat to medium-high. Remove casings from sausage and cook until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove sausage from pan. Add onions and garlic to pan and sauté. Stir in remaining milk mixture, spinach, and cooked sausage. Remove pan from heat.

Arrange 2 noodles over milk mixture in baking dish; top with 1/2 cup ricotta and one-third spinach mixture. Repeat layers twice. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 40 minutes. Remove foil.

Broil on high until cheese is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes.



Taco Rotel Dip

Ingredients:

• 1 large block of Velveeta Queso Blanco Cheese, cubed

• 1 ground pork sausage roll (you can also use ground beef or ground turkey sausage)

• 2 cans of Mexican Style Lime and Cilantro Rotel Tomatoes

• 1 pack of Taco Seasoning

• 1 tbsp. of water

• ¼ cup sour cream

• 1 Crock Pot 

• 1 Skillet



Instructions: 

• Spray your crock pot with cooking spray. Add cubed cheese to your crock pot with both cans of rotel tomatoes on high. 

• In your skillet, brown your sausage. Once your sausage is done, drain off any grease. While the sausage is still in the skillet, on low heat, pour your pack of taco seasoning and water onto your sausage. Once this is mix, pour sausage into a bowl and set to the side. 

• Once your cheese has melted, mix in sausage and sour cream. Stir and you are ready to eat!

*(For a thinner cheese sauce, add an additional can of rotel tomatoes. Any type of dipping chip will go great with this! Enjoy!)



Honey Citrus Fruit Salad

Ingredients

• 1 container strawberries hulled and sliced

• 1 bag of grapes

• 1 pineapple peeled and diced

• 1 small watermelon, cubed

• 1 cantaloupe, cubed

• 1 honeydew melon, cubed

• 1/4 cup honey 

• Juice from 1 lemon

Instructions

• Whisk together honey and lemon juice in a small bowl. Set aside. (For more sweetness, add an additional tbsp. or 2 of honey.)

• In a large bowl, stir together all of the prepared fruit.

• Pour honey citrus mixture over fruit and toss to combine.

• Keep in the refrigerator and serve chilled.