Written by Vicki Winstead
Welcome to a new year and a new decade! I hope everyone enjoyed a much-needed break with time to rest, read and visit family and friends. A new year means new beginnings, fresh starts, setting goals and making resolutions. It is a great time to reflect on the past and plan for the future.
Over the past few months, I have had many conversations and discussions with TASL members about things they would like to see happen in our organization. I have also been carefully reviewing the Strategic Plan developed by our 2019 Past-President Blake Hopper and his committee. From this feedback I have decided that my primary areas of focus in the coming year will be to strengthen networking opportunities for our members and advocacy.
One of the great benefits of TASL membership is the opportunity to network with other school librarians across our state. TASL is a strong professional learning network where we can share, contribute knowledge and ideas, and learn from each other. As many of us are the only librarian in our school, having a network of people you can turn to is vitally important if we are to grow as professionals. And when we grow, our students reap the rewards.
In the coming year, TASL will introduce a mentor program called “TASL Buddies”. Through this program, we will pair an experienced librarian with someone just getting started in school librarianship. This will give our newest members someone they can turn to for help and advice. An email will go out soon with more information and the chance for those interested in participating to sign up. The board, led by Membership Chair Martha Harris, is currently making plans for a membership blitz that will begin in January, highlighting the benefits of joining TASL. 2019 President Jennifer Sharp will be heading up a new professional development webinar series on various topics of interest, available exclusively to TASL members.
My second focus for the coming year is to continue the advocacy work being done by TASL. TASL’s State Coordinator task force, led by Secretary and Advocacy Chair Lindsey Kimery, has been hard at work meeting with Tennessee legislators and Department of Education representatives with the goal of securing a state-level coordinator for school librarians. Having a State Coordinator in place will ensure that school librarians receive the leadership, advocacy and advisory services they need. We will also continue our efforts to ensure proper staffing of school libraries in all school districts.
I am excited to see what 2020 has in store for TASL and school librarianship. I hope you will feel free to reach out to me at any time with ideas, concerns, or questions. I am grateful for this opportunity to serve TASL this year as your President!
Vicki Winstead is a school librarian at Vance Middle School in Bristol, TN and the 2020 President of TASL. She also serves as a Teacher Ambassador for Bristol Tennessee City Schools. You can find her on Twitter @VickiWinstead