TASL’S Pathway to Leadership: Get to Know Some Behind-the-Scenes Volunteers

Written by: Ginger Kirchmyer

Our year has flown by quickly, but TASL hasn’t accomplished all that we have without the efforts of some amazing people. We’d like to give our readers an opportunity to learn a little about some of the “behind-the-scenes” workers of TASL in hopes that it will inspire and encourage more of us to step forward and get plugged in.

The purpose of this post is to inspire others to take that step. We sincerely hope you can see yourself in the people featured here. If one or more roles seem interesting to you, please reach out to us! The more people who serve, the lighter the load for all of us! Every year we become greater, largely due to the fact that we get to stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.

Please consider making a difference for those in our profession who may need to stand on your shoulders to gain a new perspective and see what they can become. Small steps are ok, but make the choice to get involved today! Contact our president-elect Jennifer Sharp for more info at jennifer.sharp.tasl@gmail.com.

NOTE: Members of leadership who will be serving on the executive board for 2019 were featured in the August 6, 2019 blog post announcing the upcoming slate of officers.

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CHRISTA CORDREY: TASL Tech Chair & Web Manager

Currently I teach at Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School. I joined TASL in 2010 and have been a librarian for 8 years. My first leadership assignment in TASL was when I served as the UTK student liaison. Later I was asked by leadership to serve in my current role after indicating an interest on my TASL membership application.

Being the tech chair has been a challenging task! I am always looking for people to help with social media campaigns and I would LOVE to have some volunteers to help with technology at conferences and such. If you’re interested, please email me: christa.cordrey@mnps.org!

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BETH FRERKING: Intellectual Freedom Chair

I’m a librarian at Clarksville High School, and this will be my 15th year as a librarian. At the encouragement of other librarians in my district, I joined TASL the first when I came to Northwest High School in Clarksville from Alaska.  Bruce Hester and Becky Jackman were working on the TASL’s annual conference and asked me to do registration. Saying yes was one of the best professional decisions that I have ever made.

Unquestionably, I have received more from TASL than I’ve given.  Being involved in the leadership has forced me to think broadly about the role of our profession and the important role that we play in our schools. It has given me the opportunity to meet leaders in our profession and related professions and learn from them.  And, I’ve been able to meet lots and lots of wonderful Tennessee librarians. They are fun and smart, and I am thankful to be one!

After doing conference registration for a couple of years, I went on to become treasurer, president, advocacy chair, and web manager, and I currently serve as Intellectual Freedom Chair.


BRENDA GOINS: Professional Development Co-Chair

Currently I am the librarian at Porter Elementary School in the Blount County School System.  I began my career teaching in the classroom and have taught all grades from 4th to 8th ending with 14 years teaching ELA in 7th grade before going into the library.  I have been in the library for 10 years. The library is the perfect transition from my ELA classroom because the focus was always on reading! Joining TASL was the first thing I did upon entering the library because I wanted to make sure that I would be surrounded by fellow LIbrarians and capable of networking.  

I am currently serving TASL as the Co-Chair for the Professional Development Committee, and have for the last two years after Blake Hopper called and asked me to serve.  My goal in this role is to just make sure whoever attends goes away with something that is useful to them and their library.

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KRISTA GRACE: Awards Chair

I am the librarian at South Gibson Middle School in Medina, Tennessee.  South Gibson Middle School is a part of the Gibson County Special School District.  I am beginning my ninth year as a librarian and have been a member of TASL since 2009.  I was recruited to co-chair the summer professional development with Michelle Castleberry and then later co-chaired it with Blake Hopper.  Blake and I became great friends serving as the Road Trip Summer Co-Chairs.

Through our friendship and our work relationship he asked to serve as the TASL Awards Chair for 2018.  I enjoy serving others and would encourage other members to get involved in the leadership of TASL, because through these leadership roles I have met some great librarians who challenge me to continue to strive to learn and try new things.  I have also met some wonderful new friends. Being a part of TASL helps me to know what the current trends and best practices are in libraries. It also allows me to connect with other librarians from across the state to collaborate and get new ideas to use with my own students.  Don’t be scared to step up! Helping to lead TASL is fun and offers many opportunities to grow both personally and professionally.

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Hello colleagues! I love all that TASL has done to help me get connected in our state. Especially with such a small group of us (relatively speaking); it’s nice meeting others who have something to teach me and plugging in where I’m needed so I can practice my skill-set. My first role as a leader in TASL was as a presenter at TASLCon where I presented on what the research says about librarians having a dedicated library website.

I’ve continued to present, but I also initially volunteered to help with TASLCon by soliciting  vendors for prizes and giveaways. Then, noticing that the newsletter tended to be written by the officers, I asked if they might like to have an editor, and the answer was YES!! I’ve always enjoyed writing, editing, and publishing, and I like to work with graphics, so this fit my wheelhouse of abilities. I took our traditional newsletter to a virtual magazine, and now to the existing blog, and this year added the Book Review team as a new feature (which, hopefully, you are all liking).

If you are looking at TASL and not seeing a role in which you feel like you fit, see if there’s something we’re missing, something you might be able to bring to the table. Or, do like I did: see if there’s something that you might take off the plate of someone else who already has so much to do. Maybe there’s a role that one of our officers has that you could assist with. It never hurts to ask. Even if it’s one small thing – if you’re good at it, and you enjoy it, you could make a huge impact. 


(Scot, pictured with dog puppet, Fluffy)

SCOT SMITH: Co-chair of the Volunteer State Book Award

I am presently the librarian at Robertsville Middle School in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. I have been a librarian for so long I have forgotten just how long–I think it is twenty-two years. I joined TASL in 1997 and volunteered to serve on the YA committee for the VSBA shortly thereafter. In 1999, I agreed to become the webmaster for TASL. I eventually became the chair on the YA VSBA committee. In 2000 and something (again, it happened so long ago that I cannot remember the exact date), I was asked to co-chair for the VSBA, a position I currently still hold.

I do not consider myself a leader. Nor am I particularly social. In my free time, I like to stay at home and read books. Being involved in TASL has helped me connect with other librarians from across the state and to acquire leadership skills that I would have otherwise developed. Working with TASL has inspired me to look for similar opportunities with ALA and its affiliates. In 2017, I served on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee and am currently on the conference committee for the 2019 YALSA Symposium.

I would not have been selected for those committees had I not been active in TASL. I strongly encourage other members of TASL to volunteer for a committee or to help with the conference, because without fresh faces and new leaders, TASL will not prosper as an organization.

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AMY BALDUCCI: TASL Secretary 2018

I currently teach at Arlington High School in Arlington, TN serving grades 9-12. Prior to 2017, I was the LMS at Riverdale Elementary in Germantown, TN for six years where I served grades K-8. This is my 21st year in education, teaching grades 2-7 in the regular classroom before coming a Library Media Specialist. I joined TASL in 2012 and began serving as regional rep for the former Mississippi River Region in 2014 and serving on the conference committee for 2017 and 2018.  I was later asked to serve as Secretary after fulfilling my role as regional rep.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in leadership with TASL. The connections I have made across the state have been invaluable to me both personally and professionally. I encourage anyone who might be curious as to how they could get involved in TASL leadership to start by serving on a conference committee and get to know the wonderful Tennessee librarians.

Ginger Kirchmyer is a National Board Certified Teacher and the librarian at DuPont Hadley Middle Prep in Nashville, TN; she taught English in the classroom for 18 years before becoming a school librarian. In 2014 she proudly earned her MLIS from the University of Alabama. She currently serves as the TASLTalks Editor. She manages her own library website www.technobrary.org and posts her own blog as well.

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