October 2020 TASL Librarians of the Month

by Brandi Hartsell

Each month TASL recognizes three school librarians from across the state for their outstanding service to their school and community. Congratulations to the October 2020 Librarians of the Month.

East TN Librarian of the Month

Kari Sharp

Name: Kari Sharp

Hometown: Friendsville, TN

School: Friendsville Elementary School

School District: Blount County Schools

Grades Served: Kindergarten through Fifth Grade

Average # of Students Per Class: 20

What do you love most about being a school librarian?

As a new school librarian, I love getting to see the excitement on my students’ faces when I am able to help them connect with a book. I love being able to form relationships with my students, and have these relationships grow as the students advance throughout the grades. I want my students to know they are loved, and the library is a safe place for them. Most importantly, being in the library has only further reinforced my need to teach from my heart and engage my students daily. If I can teach with my heart, I will be able to provide the absolute best for my students. I tell my students daily, “Love yourself, love each other, and then you can rock this world.” I believe this motto will transfer into my library and make the incredibly difficult job of being a school librarian completely worth it!

What would someone see if they were to walk in your library?

If someone walked into my library, they would see a variety of activities happening. They would see engaging lessons, where students are actively participating. They might see technology skills being taught and used in the library. Students will also be seen moving around the library, because this is their library. The students are working to develop ownership of the library. If someone walks into my library, they will see laughter, books being read, relationships being formed, high expectations given, and students being able to be “kids.”

What are you most proud of regarding your library program?

I am most proud of the relationships I am forming with students. In addition, I am most proud of the excitement I am generating for the library. Our library was completely redone this summer by me, with new paint and artwork. I’m proud that the library is now a kid-friendly place for my students to learn and grow.

What advice would you give a new librarian?

As a new librarian, it is important to work to form relationships with students. Give reading interest inventories and work to find books that students will like. I gave my students interest inventories, and then I find the books and send them to the students. They love getting “mail” from the librarian.

If you are willing, please provide us with a favorite activity description that we can share with other professionals.

One of the activities I am most proud of this year is my Story Walk. I did a Story Walk as a Title I event. The students, and their families, were able to go through a trail on our school campus and read the book The Leaf Man by Lois Elhert. Each page/stop of the story had discussion questions about the text that students were able to discuss with their families. At the end of the Story Walk, students were challenged to create their own leaf man and return it to school for a book prize. I had over 50% participation from my school. I was very excited!

Anything else you would like to share?

In addition to being the librarian, I am also the STEM teacher for our school, so I am able to incorporate both areas into my teaching.

Follow Kari on Twitter @MsSharpsLibrary and on Instagram @msksharp

Middle TN Librarian of the Month

Kristen “KC” Brock

Name: KC Brock

Hometown: Columbia, TN

School: Highland Park Elementary

School District: Maury County School

Grades Served: PreK-4

Average # of Students Per Class: 20

What do you love most about being a school librarian?

I love the spark moment when a child connects with a character in a book. At that moment they realize that their own story needs to be told.

What would someone see if they were to walk in your library?

Fun, joy, energy, exploration, collaboration, and lots of good books!

What are you most proud of regarding your library program?

I love how my students have taken ownership of the library! Our library is genrefied which means we now have students experts in each class who can show you where to find what you are looking for. They make book recommendations to each other constantly and know how to find a book that is similar to the ones they already love. The library is the hub of our school and a source of pride for our students and staff.

What advice would you give a new librarian?

Be bold! Try new things, try new books, try new materials. If it doesn’t take off, try something else! The goal is to get books into our students hands and if you can make that happen then you are rocking and rolling!

If you are willing, please provide us with a favorite activity description that we can share with other professionals.

I have found that our students, recently, do not always get exposure to what I would consider some “life skills” like sewing. So, I have been working on teaching them how to upcycle old clothing into things that we can use right here at school. They have learned how to use a sewing machine as well as hand sew to create personalized pencil pouches, and distinctive bag tag monsters to put on their backpacks. Super fun ways to teach them how to recycle as well as design/create a pattern, use the pattern to cut fabric, then sew something useful.

Anything else you would like to share?

This is truly and honor! TASL librarians are ROCK STARS!

Follow KC on Twitter @kcbrock44 and on Instagram @canuckgonesouth

West TN Librarian of the Month

Leigh Anne Frazier

Name: Leigh Anne Frazier

Hometown: Memphis, TN

School: Berclair Elementary

School District: Shelby County Schools

Grades Served: Kindergarten through 5th Grade

Average # of Students Per Class: 23

What do you love most about being a school librarian?

I love sharing stories with my students that make them laugh, asking questions, and getting the students excited about reading.

What would someone see if they were to walk in your library?

In the morning, they would see me reading with my students using props, hats, or anything that makes the story come to life. I do this to engage my primary students and help foster an initial love of reading that carries to the upper grades.

In the afternoon, they would see the students actively engaged in literacy, research, and STEM learning stations. I enjoy being creative with my students and want them to enjoy coming to the library each week.

What are you most proud of regarding your library program?

This is my fifth year as a librarian. Over the past four years I have added many books, materials, supplies, and equipment to our school’s library. I have accomplished this through receiving twenty-eight fully funded Donors Choose projects and many successful book fairs. This has helped create a library environment the students enjoy spending time in and want to come back to as soon as they can.

What advice would you give a new librarian?

Read books to your students that they will love and form a fabulous relationship with your local public library.

Anything else you would like to share?

I have truly embraced virtual teaching. I have added a whole new assortment of hats to my collection that coordinate with the books I am sharing with my students. I have all the online resources my students need in one location on our school library blog. My older students are doing research that coordinates with the stories I am sharing with their class. We take it one day at a time, but each new day is a good day.

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