|Goldin Awards: Recognition for School Librarians|
On April 26, 2012, the Goldin Foundation awarded the "Education Award" to five area teachers. Two MSLA members, Joanne Schmidt, school librarian at Medfield High School, and Ann Perham, school librarian at Needham High School, were among the five honorees.
RIGHT: Educator Forum panel L-R: Christopher Martell, Framingham High; Lowell Mazie, Framingham High School; Ann Perham, Needham High School; Debra Pinto, Hopkinton Middle School; Joanne Schmidt, Medfield High School.
This is an excerpt of the April 28th press release from the Goldin Foundation:
Here is the text of Ann's speech:
What an amazing honor!
When I learned that I had been named a winner of the Goldin Education Award, I had no words. It launched me into a very reflective mode: thinking about my path in education, the role my parents played, my responsibility as a parent and teacher, being a role model, about choices I have made in spending my time and energy, about my passions in life.
It wasn’t until this past Saturday afternoon that my ideas crystallized. I am a typical teacher in that when I am not in school, I am working from home….evenings, weekends and yes, during vacations. It was a day that I had to go into school in order to be ready for Monday and the startup following the spring break. I talked with my daughter Lindsay on the way home and was telling her that since January, it’s been a “perfect storm” of projects and events and that I had been very busy during vacation. Without missing a beat, she laughed and said, “Mom, it would be weird any other way.”
I thought about the Mom-Lecture that my kids could recite by heart, my lecture on choices: choosing friends, being involved, making your own decisions, taking pride in what you decide to do. Now, I am reflecting on my own choices.
RIGHT: Judi Paradis, MSLA President-Elect; Ann Perham, Goldin Award Recipient; Kathy Lowe, MSLA Executive Director
Yes, it IS about choice, choosing how to spend the one commodity we all have: TIME. It’s the most precious thing that we have and our choices need to reflect our passions. We don’t have the luxury of complete freedom of choice, because life presents its own realities. It’s the decisions we make within the confines of reality that define us. Some things, life decides for us as chance or happenstance. But no matter the path that we are on, we should infuse passion into what we do.
I commend Harriet Goldin and the Goldin Foundation for her passion for excellence in education. We are seeing tonite the evidence of her passion. She believes that in order for students to have the best education possible, we need to have the best teachers. The Goldin Awards are Harriet’s choice, to cultivate excellence in educators.
I thank my lucky stars that Linda Conneely chose me in 2000 to be the school librarian at Needham High School. Needham pioneered the development of standards for school libraries and instructional technology under Linda’s leadership as Director of Libraries and Technology. But the stark realization hit me soon after I started in Needham….the job that I expected to do was not the job that the students and teachers expected me to do. My vision of a library program and collaboratively taught lessons was not theirs. Linda advised me to work “one teacher at a time” and to be patient. Change was not easy but it did happen. It was my good fortune to end up in a system that values school libraries as essential to the success of our students. Having a director was key to protecting the program in the face of some very scary financial times. I had been in Needham for six years when the new building project was approved. Thanks to Linda, I was able to work closely with the architects to design a library that would work with our program. Talk about choices!
NEEDHAM EDUCATORS: Deb Gammerman, Director of Technology and Innovation: Margie Modena, retired Instructional Technology; Jim Modena, retired Instructional Technology; Linda Conneely, retired Director of Technology and Media; Dr. Jonathan Pizzi, Needham High School Principal; Ann Perham, School Librarian; Jeanne Pileski, Library Teaching Assistant; Susan Duncan, retired Director of Social Studies; Fredie Kay, League of Women Voters. Missing from picture: Samantha Bookston, Instructional Technology; Char Sidell, School Librarian and Dr. Dan Gutekanst, Superintendent of Schools.
I have a terrific staff that has perfected the fine arts of multi-tasking and flexibility. They are positive and welcoming and can take a large share of the credit for the Library’s being a busy place. Without Jeanne, Susan and Michele, I would not be able to collaborate with teachers and work with students. Instead of being a classroom, the library would become a warehouse for books and a cushy study hall conveniently furnished with computers and printers.
To be clear, the Needham High Library is NOT a perfect program; there is absolutely room for improvement. The entire world of school libraries is constantly changing and I am constantly prioritizing and making choices based on educational needs and budget realities.
But, I confess, I do have the BEST job in the world.
The Needham High Library is usually busy, it’s often unpredictable and it’s never routine. It’s absolutely magic when a class begins their Sophomore Archetype project and they are pouring through the reference section and scouring the stacks for their resources. I can’t help but smile when four students sitting at a table hardly have room for their resource books and their laptops. I work with the teachers to have their students brainstorm keywords and do a “shopping list” of books for their topic; I love seeing freshmen clutching their shopping list and very seriously hunting down the books, discovering and being excited with their finds. To see the look of accomplishment on the face of a junior as he staples his 20 page Junior Research Paper….to witness a sophomore talking with the National History Day judges and confidently explaining her exhibit. I enjoy having the Library alive with classes and celebrate that I’ve had a role in working with the teachers to make their projects rich with the skills of information and technology literacy. These are skills that are not in textbooks, but are essential for thriving in college and in the work world. The landscape of education is being re-shaped as we speak with the Common Core standards. There is absolutely a role for school librarians in the inclusion of research strategies and information texts.
Yes, I have the best job in the world because I am appreciated. When I read the letters of support in my nomination file written by teachers, administrators, a parent and a student, I didn’t know what to say. As a school librarian, I work with so many students and staff and it’s not about ME, but rather about what I can do to support them in completing a project, designing a lesson, or finding resources. School Libraries, staffed with credentialed school librarians, are classrooms where we teach the critical skills of technology and information literacy.
I could have the best resources known to education, but if the classes don’t use the Library, it is only a collection of bookshelves. The NHS Social Studies department has the distinction of being the most frequent flyer in the NHS Library. They require a project each term and projects involving research, creativity and critical thinking make the Library a natural resource. For me in the Library, here is an opportunity for the natural infusion of information skills. A huge thanks goes to Susan Duncan, now retired Social Studies Department head who worked closely with me. She was instrumental in helping to develop the Virtual Library boasting 1500+ ebooks, available 24/7. Under her leadership, we developed a “freshman orientation” project that is within the curriculum – not an extra. The National History Day project, competition and museum is a rite of passage for our sophomores, truly a celebration of student critical thinking and creativity.
But the biggest choice I have made in my life is to be a parent. After teaching high school social studies for 9 years, I began my second career and I was employed full-time for 13 years with the job title of Mom. I have no regrets about the choices I made in being at home and nurturing our five children, but I still sought out ways to be involved. Looking back, I see that my passions were directly tied to my priorities: the golf game was long gone; I started a babysitting co-op; I founded a dining group called “Pampered Palates;” I worked year round on the Christmas Room for the church fair; I was active in school volunteer work; I played a role in starting a daycare center at my church and was on the Board of Directors. My husband Brad was athletic director at Roxbury Latin and worked six days a week, so I took the Perham Cheering Section to lots of games. It was the best way I knew to stay involved as a family. Again, I loved being busy and I was conscious of the added dimension of being a role model for my children.
In 1995, I came to the realization that unless I recertified I would lose my teaching license. My daughter Abby was entering high school and the twins, Chelsey and Lindsay were not far behind in middle school. Hannah was still in elementary school and Ross was only 2½. My going back to teaching was key to their going to college.
In the space of two weeks, I had a teaching job as a school librarian. I chose to take classes to close the gap in my professional skills; the Internet had burst upon the educational scene and I was determined to be on top of the wave. I reminded myself that I was a good role model for my children as a working mother and graduate student. This was a tough juggling act and I found that I had to cut back on my volunteer work at church and in the schools. Yes, I felt very guilty, but it reality.
Fast forward to a defining moment. It was 1998 and I was at Medfield High School when I received a phone call asking me to be on the Executive Board of the Massachusetts School Library Association. I asked for time to think about it. I hung up, turned to my assistant and said, “How can I do this?” Without hesitating, she shot right back, “How CAN’T you?” She believed in me and knew how important it was to contribute to my profession and [again] to be that role model for my children. I took the position and have never left the MSLA board. I am passionate about school libraries and have devoted much of my time to the advocacy and public relations.
Outside the Library, I have looked for opportunities to get involved in extracurricular activities at Needham High. I believe that getting to know the students in a non-classroom setting is key to fulfillment as an educator. We aim to educate the whole student, which means far more than textbooks. I celebrate the role that community service, sports, drama, school government and clubs play in developing the students’ leadership, and character. I’m the school liaison for “Make a Statement Day” working collaboratively with the Needham Youth Services, and “Take Back the Night,” working with the Domestic Violence Action Committee. This year, my role as the National Honor Society advisor has taken a tremendous amount of collaborative work with our principal Jonathan Pizzi and the Faculty Committee; I am proud and hopeful of the new direction.
I look forward to my daily meeting with my Mentor Homeroom students – here are 18 students with whom I have a very unique relationship. I have chosen to put as much enthusiasm and creativity into my homeroom; it is my favorite time of the day.
Teaching and parenting are similar in many ways. We are in the position to shape the lives of the next generation, to be role models and to influence their choices. I tell my children and my students that it is our CHOICES that define us. It is these decisions we make in the face of life’s challenges that distinguish who we are and what values we hold.
To be given an award for doing what I am passionate about is a celebration and I thank all of you who wrote letters and those who have come to support me. It is a tremendous honor and I am humbled by your praise.
Here is the text of Joann's speech:
I am truly humbled to be here. I’ve attended this event in previous years, been inspired, and actually “borrowed” an idea or two to use at Medfield High School. I don’t see myself in the same league as the other honorees tonight, but I will describe one popular program from my library, a program that I am proud.
CONGRATULATING JOANNE SCHMIDT on her Goldin Award: Harriet Goldin, Director of the Goldin Foundation; Gail Duffy, Medfield High School.
Before I get into that description there are some thank yous I need to make. Much of the library’s success for which I get credit is due to the library aides. They work hard to make our library a welcoming and helpful place every day, but especially during Café Read-a-Latte. I also need to thank teachers at MHS and the administrators of Medfield Public Schools. They are always supportive and understanding. They get school libraries. They allow me to try new things. They allow me to apply for grants to fund new technology toys used to improve the library program. Lastly, I need to thank Ann Perham, my predecessor at MHS and a fellow honoree tonight. She left MHS the foundations of a good program (staff, budget, collections, web page.) She also serves as a role model for me and many teacher librarians across the state. She’s a leader in our state association and her work has inspired me to do more work outside MHS. I’ll be one of 3 school librarians serving as an advisor to the Massachusetts Library System’s Online Content Committee. I’m hoping to positively impact what online content the state will provide and how it will be delivered to libraries across the state.
Online content could be the segue way to the heart of my speech. Libraries and technologies are so linked today. I love technology, but tonight I’m talking about a program that supports reading .
Medfield High’s Café Read-a-Latte, is about encouraging a love of reading. We want the YA around us to read for pleasure. We’ve been holding the Café for nine years. We have data about the success of this program.
Data driven decision making is the first of many buzzwords my speech contains - just one of those buzzwords tossed around schools and libraries today: 21st century skills, collaborative partnerships, multiple literacies, inquiry based learning. There are too many buzzwords to keep track of, but I’ll try to highlight the best practices or trends that the café embodies.
A little history:
Nine years ago, former English teacher colleague approached me with the name and description of a program she’d been part of in another district. I apologize to anyone here from that district. I reacted to the suggestion of bringing the Café to Medfield with some dread. Not only was I a third year teacher still working hard to keep afloat, I didn’t know how to make lattes.
Year one, we set up a small table next to the circulation desk. All work by two LMC staff. We poured lots of coffee and talked about many books. Lesson learned: It’s okay to start small.
In nine years the program has evolved. We try to improve it each year, but the fundamentals have remained. Every student gets a chance to visit the café (library) at least once during the week with their required English class. We celebrate as close to National Education Association’s Read Across America program, as possible. For those of you who don’t know Read Across America, according to the NEA webpage, it is an “annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss.” Guest readers in classrooms is a common celebration.
The NEA believes that “motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school” and on standardized tests.
So, for one week each year we transform the library into a café. Picture Starbucks inside Barnes and Noble. It sounds simple. We sell drinks and snacks and display books in way that helps market them: cool covers facing outward, organized by interesting themes instead of shelving books alphabetically by the author’s last name with only spines showing. Some of our most popular themes:
Café Read-a-Latte is a simple idea that has become part of MHS culture. As the program has grown, so has the amount of work it takes to organize. Organizing starts one to two months before, paperwork (scheduling, soliciting donations, tracking donors, and expenses and income, publicity) is hard, but the Café involves physical work, too. Do you know how heavy milk for 1,000 cups of coffee is? Now add cream cheese for 1,000 bagels and bagels and juice and donuts – so many donuts - think carrying boxes of a dozen donuts 12 at a time.
Scheduling: Scheduling classes and volunteers and donors requires collaboration and teamwork- more buzzwords. Collaboration with the English teachers is key without them the café wouldn’t be possible and all my colleagues are so eager to help, the team work is what makes it easy to create Café Read-a-Latte.
Parent volunteers have taken a huge burden off staff. Parents serve coffee, collect money, and donate baked goods. They have drastically cutting our costs, increasing profits. Local businesses donate supplies and baked goods. Working with parents and donor develops family and community relations. NEASC and Medfield have goals to develop these partnerships.
The Café is a successful fundraiser with proceeds being used to improve collections. In the past, profits have mostly been used for current fiction, but this year’s $1,800 will be used to load our new Kindles with books. We got the Kindles through a grant and my dream is that every student who requests a book, will be able to walk out of the library that same period with that book – in some format. I also want to start a book club using the Kindles.
From year one, the café has grown each year. We are always busy, but that week, we have twice as many visitors and book check outs as a normal week.
Four years ago, we added a blog. Find it at readalatte.blogspot.com. Three years ago we began surveying all students and teachers about library services during the Café. VoiceThreads were added two years ago and last year we added podcasts featuring students discussing their favorite books and authors. Even an event about reading can integrate technology – another buzzword. This year we added a visual literacies game. It was very popular with the students and a way to incorporate multiple literacies – another buzzword.
A word about assessments (another buzzword): We are beginning to use the data collected over the last 3 years to improve our programs. This year the survey asked one open ended question: “If you could change one thing about the MHS library what would it be?” The majority of students took the time to write “nothing” and a compliment, but some did request in writing that they wanted the café to last longer or be a weekly or monthly event- a sign of our success.
Café Read-A-Latte has become part of culture at MHS. From the first notice I send to teachers each year, I feel a positive shift in the mood of our building. There’s something fun to look forward to. Students say it’s their favorite week of the year and ask why we can’t do it all the time. Teachers see it as a harbinger of spring – we are close to April vacation and that’s close to the end of the year.
With students scheduled every minute of a 7 period day, we hope that providing a chance for them to sit and relax with a cup of coffee or tea and a good book will encourage them to always "read a latte."
|Last Updated ( Wednesday, 02 May 2012 )|