What Makes a Super Hero?


I am excited tonight, even though it is a rainy night in Georgia! I have the distinct opportunity this week to participate in the Media Specialist Task Force for the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC). The goal is to “Inform the work of developing and/or revising educator preparation standards for the Media Specialist field.”

The reason I am excited is because this Task Force comprised of practicing school library media specialists, university professors, and state media coordinators will come together to produce and weld the guidelines that will determine the requirements for becoming a super hero among educators…a school librarian! Why am I qualified to contribute to this great commission? My calling as a university professor is to truly prepare my students for the “real” world. I don’t teach a plethora of philosophical concepts (even though I do to a degree) about good school library programs. Instead, I mainly teach students how to put together a good selection policy so there won’t be a myriad of book challenges, how to match the best web 2.0 (or 3.0) tool with the project the student is working on, what facts should be pulled together to show the administration the power the school librarian can offer to directly impact student achievement, how to apply Sears, Dewey, or BISAC so that the collection is easy to navigate for any age learner, how to tell a story that will reach the heart of the child who otherwise would never want to read. This meeting presents an opportunity to share with the rule-makers WHAT we do, and SHOULD do, in media programs across the state.

I can recommend the GaPSC cover all of these types of offerings mentioned above. In addition, I am reading about ideas that push beyond the norm. For instance, I just read about seed libraries. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we saw this sort of thing develop in P-12 schools – check out seeds, plant them, grow crops, and return your own generated seeds to replenish the supply for others. Simple concept, but what a marvelous idea! There is a great deal of discussion on creating an atmosphere of LIFE in school library media centers: maker spaces, flipped learning, STEM initiatives, theatre productions. All of these great movements and ideas make me wish I was 30ish rather than 60ish.

I realize this is not a glamorous post to many, but it is to me! Every base-sized school in the state of Georgia is required to have a school library media specialist (according to O.C.G.A. § 20-2-181, unless they have achieved status such as Charter and forego that state law). That being the case, the school library media specialist is poised to reach every student within that school, to impact how they learn and what they learn. That’s a powerful place to be.

Yes, I am excited. Any time I can look back across my 45 years as a school library media educator and offer a personal testimony about what really reaches kids, teachers, and beyond, I am the first to share my thoughts. We’ll see what tomorrow brings…


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Author:Phyllis Snipes

I am all about school librarianship!! I taught in P-12 schools as a Kindergarten teacher, first grade teacher, and second grade teacher for five years. I was a school library media specialist (or teacher-librarian!) for ten years, coordinator of library services for the Carrollton City School District, GA, for 15 years, and am now full time associate professor in the School Library Media Program at the University of West Georgia for eight years, plus 17 years as an adjunct prior to full time. My passion is teaching. I write, I present, I serve on committees, but my true passion is to help future librarians understand what the job is really all about. I love to present new web 2.0 toys and envision ways to engage kids and really give them choices. The school library is the place where all kinds of excitement can happen. It's truly the place where knowledge lives (virtually, mostly) as well as the Agora of the school campus! I am certain of the huge impact strong school library media programs have on student achievement, and I want the rest of the world to recognize it. My daughter (also a library lady!) used to come into my school library media center BOOK FAIR when she was a little girl and take a deep breath, exhale, and softly say...I love the smell of the book fair! Even though I'm an avid online researcher, I still love the tomes!!

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