I began my quest for a master’s degree in School Librarian and Information Technology in May 2006. I began with one course during the summer and quickly decided that this was the profession for me. I took two more courses that fall (2006) and spring 2007. During this time, I realized that I was pregnant and due fall 2007. I was only half-way finished and was at a critical fork in the road. Delay my degree and future career options OR hit fast forward. I decided on the latter. I took three courses over the summer, passed the PRAXIS exam for Pennsylvania, and started three courses in the fall. Two weeks into the semester, I was invited for an interview at Wattsburg Area School District. I was 8 months pregnant and still taking three courses at this time. The interview was awkward and untimely. I was offered the position which I quickly accepted! I delivered my baby, Benjamin, less than one week after the interview. Five weeks later, I was a full-time graduate student and a new elementary librarian. OVERWHELMED was the understatement of my world for the last six weeks of the semester. I persevered and graduated in December 2007! NOTE: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!
I continued to strive to be the best elementary librarian for the students. Over the summer, I worked on improving the technology and labeling of the library. I had the out-dated study carrels were removed, newer computers were moved into the elementary center library from other schools, and a location was chosen for four OPAC stations (card catalog on the computer. I ordered new books, labeled the shelves with pictures (elementary students needed the visuals to find the favorites such as dogs or dinosaur books), started to revise the 1990 library curriculum.
As I start my second year at Wattsburg Area Elementary Center (K – 4th), I am finely able to put into practice so many ideas that I acquired during classes at Mansfield University. My schedule is “fixed” on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays with seven forty minute classes each day. My mostly flexible schedule on Tuesdays and Thursdays has allowed me to start a fourth grade lunch time book club. The first book was chosen was The City of Ember. This science fiction meets mystery title was presented to all 108 fourth graders. Sixty-three students and seven staff members signed on for this adventure. Each week, everyone independently reads a pre-decided section of the book. Then, we sit down with our lunches and books in small groups. We discuss what we love, what confused us, what might happen next, and more. The group hopes to be able to see the movie version in a few weeks when the book is finished. The students were elated to see their “book club” published in our local newspaper The Erie Times-News. In addition, I am working setting up a video conference with the author as well! Shhh – do not tell the students, it will be a wonderful surprise if it works.
I have a school-wide bulletin board for classrooms that return 100% of their books each week. The concept is catching on and more classroom names are being posted every week. I have hosted book fairs and soon will be adding school-wide video announcements on exciting book talks. In addition, I am working a new wikispace at waeclibrary.wikispaces.com. It is free for educators and only open to invited members, so feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get access to this site. This is the just the beginning of exciting year in the Wattsburg Area Elementary Center.
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