March 2021 TASL Librarians of the Month

East TN Librarian of the Month

Name: Jordyn Horner

Hometown: Gate City, VA

School: Karns Middle School

School District: Knox County Schools

Grades Served: 6-8

What do you love most about being a school librarian?

I love being able to share my passion for reading. I love that I get to use my creativity for displays, bulletin boards, and more. I love the relationships that I am able to build with readers and even non-readers who just like to visit. I love that I am able to make the library a place for all.

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

In a non-pandemic year, you would see students scattered and doing a number of different things: reading, checking in and out books, board games, art, crafts, maker-spaces, etc. I always try to have a variety of different activities going on to draw in students. With the pandemic, this year has looked a bit different. I spend a lot of time providing technology help for students and teachers and sharing different online resources that students and teachers can use. I regularly update my online library page with read-alouds, ebooks, and other fun things to do.

What are you most proud of regarding your library program?

I am so proud of the way that our library has been able to adapt to the changes that have come along with the pandemic. I have a successful online library page that students regularly use. I have a Book Mobile that I take to each classroom for students to be able to check out books since we have had to limit library visits due to contact tracing. I am proud of the fact that I am able to bring students into the library that usually stay away. Students have told me that they love my displays and activities that I do. I am also proud of the relationships that I have built in my time here. I love getting to know students and their interests so that I can recommend books to read.

What advice would you give a new librarian?

Share ideas and resources even if they aren’t asked for. Make your presence known! Don’t be afraid to be goofy and do silly things to promote reading and the library. Make the library fun and a place students want to visit.

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

My favorite activity that I have done so far has been “Blind Date with a Book” that I do during the month of February. I wrap up different books (I select titles that sometimes get overlooked, as well as favorites). I label each book with 5 words that describe it. I also place a “Rate Your Date” survey inside the front cover for students to return with the book. I love that many students are so open to trying new books. I have had several tell me that they would have never selected the book otherwise, but that they really enjoyed it and are looking forward to reading more. I had to keep wrapping more and more books each day to keep up with the demand.

Follow Jordyn on Twitter @KarnsMS_Library and on Instagram @mrshornerreads

Middle TN Librarian of the Month

Name: Liz Miller

Hometown: Smyrna, TN

School: Stewarts Creek High School

School District: Rutherford County Schools

Grades Served: 9-12

What do you love most about being a school librarian?

What I love most about being a librarian is interacting with my students and helping them with whatever they need to be successful. Sometimes that means helping them find their next great read, and sometimes it is simply loaning them a pencil for the day. I want the library to be the place that everyone comes knowing a friendly face and a helping hand are waiting.

What are you most proud of regarding your library program?

Every year the library hosts author visits whether in-person or virtually. I am most proud of this part of the library program because something magical happens when students connect with authors. Those connections create memories that last a lifetime.

What advice would you give a new librarian?

I believe that your primary goal as a librarian should be teach your students to love the library. The library should be a warm, welcoming place. Have fun! Learning will begin when the students begin to love the library.

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

In a typical year, the library is set up in different zones before school. This provides our students the opportunity to enjoy the library in the way that suits them best. There is a place in the library for every student whether they want to use a computer, study, read, play games, or just visit with a friend. This is my favorite part of the day.

See images and info about library zones here.

Anything else you would like to share?

As one of the founders of SE-YA Book Festival, I have had the opportunity to connect readers from across Tennessee and beyond with authors and their books. I have always said that SE-YA is my Super Bowl because it is the culmination of everything I love about being a librarian.

Follow Liz on Twitter @trispey and on Instagram @trispey. You can also find Liz on Facebook.

West TN Librarian of the Month

Name: Julie Grisham

Hometown: Oakland, TN

School: Oakland Elementary School

School District: Fayette County Schools

Grades Served: PreK-5th

Average # of Students Per Class: 25

What do you love most about being a school librarian?

I love interacting with the students. This interaction includes reading to them and playing games that develop library skills.

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

They would see students’ work and several reading areas that include bean bag chairs.

What are you most proud of regarding your library program?

I implemented Oakland’s Authors. I read  Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk to the students. I encourage the students to write and/or illustrate their own books and read the books to their class during library time. The books are placed on the Oakland’s Authors shelf for students to read. The students love this program.

What advice would you give a new librarian?

Students love activities and playing educational games. Therefore, I would encourage a new librarian to incorporate these types of interactions with students. These activities and games do not have to be elaborate or expensive. For example, my students enjoy voting for their favorite authors and books. Pre-K and Kindergarten students love fingerplays.

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

The Oakland’s Authors program which is described above is also a favorite activity. Students go frequently to the Oakland’s Authors shelf to read books written and/or illustrated by their classmates.

Anything else you would like to share?

Being a school librarian has been a rewarding profession that has enabled me to assist students, teachers and parents.

Follow Julie on Twitter @Jgrishamoes

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