Success stories: BCPS library media specialists discuss national honor

In a school system, late June is considered the end of the year. And we are finishing 2017-18 on a high note by accepting a huge honor from the American Association of School Librarians.

At the organization’s annual conference in Chicago, we will accept National School Library Program of the Year from AASL. It is a significant achievement. Our dedicated library media specialists are true innovators. They teach information and technology literacy every day.

So we’re putting the spotlight on them!

In the video above, our terrific BCPS-TV staff interviewed Fran Glick, Coordinator of Digitized Learning, Pikesville High Library Media Specialist Jennifer Meltzer, and Featherbed Lane library Media Specialist Lisa Washington. We encourage you to check that out.

And before the school year ended, we touched base with Hereford Middle library media specialist Timothy Thomas and Gen. John Stricker Middle library media specialist Anna Conner for this roundtable discussion about their indispensable roles in public education.

Thanks to them, and congratulations to all who helped BCPS earn National School Library Program of the Year!

Library Media Specialist Q and A with Timothy Thomas (Hereford Middle) and Anna Conner (Gen. John Stricker Middle)

Question 1: What are you most proud of at your school’s library media center? What makes yours unique?

Mr. Thomas: The sense of community that we have created centered around the library media center. Whenever possible, we try and keep the library media center available for students to use before school, after school, and during lunch. Students take advantage of this time to study, work on computers, read, and just hang out. What makes ours unique? In addition to hosting a graphic novel book club and traditional novel book club, we also host the spelling bee team, and the top two spellers for the school compete in the Baltimore Bee. As a result of winning the Baltimore Bee, we have sent four students to the National Spelling Bee since 2008. We also hold fun reading/writing contests throughout the year to get students excited about reading.

Ms. Conner: I’m proud of the diversity represented in our collection. Our students are each unique, and I am glad we can offer resources that represent them.

Question 2: How have media centers changed over the years?

Mr. Thomas: The interest in, and importance of, graphic novels has really grown, and they are now as important to my collection as the traditional novels.

Ms. Conner: The library media center is no longer a quiet place. It is an active learning hub for the school. Voices and conversation are welcome!

Question 3: What is your favorite part of being a library media specialist?

Mr. Thomas: The fact that every day is different. One day, I might be working with a Grade 6 Language Arts class, and the next day I am working with a Grade 8 Science Class. It keeps me on my toes and allows my love of learning to go beyond one content area.

Ms. Conner: I like being able to work one-on-one with my students. Getting to know who they are and what makes them special is so valuable and fulfilling to me.

Question 4: Do you have a specific success story you want to share from 2016-17?

Mr. Thomas: I can’t think of one specific example, but I am always grateful for the relationships I am able to build with students and continuing to establish a safe, warm, and accepting space that students know welcomes them.

Ms. Conner: My favorite part of the year was when I taught a digital citizenship class about copyrights. Learning about parodies is part of that learning … and guess what … Weird Al Yankovic is STILL a big hit with 12-year-olds! We laughed a lot during that lesson.

Question 5: What is something people would be surprised to find out about the library media specialist role?

Mr. Thomas: It isn’t just about books. It part books, part technology, part teacher, part counselor, part salesman, and on and on. The job is truly all over the place, my role changes daily, hourly, and, sometimes, by the minute.

Ms. Conner: I can teach ANY subject as a media specialist: Math, Social Studies, English, Art. Nothing is off the table. We are experts of the entire curriculum!

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