Chef John Long Jr., right, from Bronson Battle Creek.

Whether it's curing cancer, designing a fashion line, opening a restaurant -- or, in my case as a young kid, owning a whole lot of goats -- we all have big dreams.

Willard Library is dedicated to helping teens discover those dreams with "Take Your Dreams off the Shelf," a series of after-school programs for teens in grades 5-12 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week.

Youth Services Librarian Stephanie Boyd and I plan the programs, and we have started the school year off with a stellar line-up of guests, classes, and discussions.

In September, guests from Summit Pointe and students spent Tuesdays discussing tough topics such as coping with loss and grief; depression and suicide; and taking care of our mental health.

In addition, Lakeview High School graduate and author Christine Dore Miller visited the lower level to speak with students about her own experiences with dating violence as a teen and explain how she turned her story into a best-selling book.

Each month, John Long Jr., a chef from Bronson Battle Creek, shows students how to create various easy, simple, healthy meals and snacks with a cooking demonstration. It is easy to tell which day he is here; the whole library smells delicious!

Other monthly features include a chance to explore creativity with various art projects, and a forum for students to showcase their singing, rapping, and poetry skills with an open-mic day.

On Tuesdays in October, we are focusing on entrepreneurship, connecting with local business owners and learning how students can use their skills and talents in the community.

Kingman Museum, Leila Arboretum, and the library will collaborate on Tuesdays in November for a series exploring the connection between our lives here in Battle Creek and the world of science.

We are so excited to learn and grow together, and we have a busy fall ahead of us!

Alisha is reading "With the Fire on High" by Elizabeth Acevido and "The Whisper Man" by Alex North.