May 2021 TASL Librarians of the Month

East TN Librarian of the Month

Name: Emily Haendel

Hometown: Campbellsport, WI

School: Halls Middle

School District: Knox County

Grades Served: 6-8

Average # of Students Per Class: 22

What do you love most about being a school librarian?

I love the relationship building aspect of being a school librarian the most. I love that librarians have the potential to leave a positive impact every student, and staff member, and stakeholder involved with a school.

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

The short answer: controlled chaos. My library is a loud and lively brave space of learning, exploring, and creating. You may see students checking out books, reading, playing board games with friends, working on homework, engaging in a productive struggle with a breakout box, or tinkering with makerspace activities.

What are you most proud of regarding your library program?

I am most proud of making the library a brave space for my students. My students know that in the library space they will be welcomed, seen, heard, supported, valued, loved, and respected for being who they are. I am also proud of the library’s Diversity Club students for embodying these traits in their interactions and growing in empathy, tolerance, and understanding this year.

What advice would you give a new librarian?

My best advice is to be yourself, share your unique gifts/talents, and ask for help. I am fortunate to work in a county that values library services so much that we have a library supervisor, library coach, and wonderful department with 80+ amazingly helpful librarians to lean on. Everyone has been willing to collaborate and help new librarians in any way possible.

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

BreakoutEDU boxes are a library favorite! Students love the challenge and “escape room” feel. Teachers love the content and it makes collaboration easy. Our breakout boxes were purchased last year with the help of a PTA grant and they were worth every penny. https://www.breakoutedu.com/

Anything else you would like to share?

Being a school librarian is the best job in the world!

Follow Emily on Instagram @hallsmsreads

Middle TN Librarian of the Month

Name: Dereck Hale

Hometown: Lyles, TN

School: East Hickman Intermediate School

School District: Hickman County

Grades Served: 3-5

Average # of Students Per Class: 25

What do you love most about being a school librarian?

I love being a librarian, period. What I’ve enjoyed MOST in my first year as a school librarian is collaborating with my teachers on resources and lesson ideas while working to connect students to that just-right book that kindles that love of reading for them.

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

My library is the closest thing to Disney World that you can get in Middle Tennessee. I try to create a fun, welcoming place that all kids WANT to come and get away from the everyday stresses of school. What better place to escape than in a book!

What are you most proud of regarding your library program?

Being a first year librarian, I am still working on my library program. However, I have loved the freedom to stylize and create a program that works for my individual school and students!

What advice would you give a new librarian?

I would say DEFINITELY get to know your collection QUICKLY! I’ve been twenty questioned early on about what books I’ve got in the library and I felt horrible telling students, “I don’t know.” Knowing what books and resources you have will help connect students to books they will enjoy reading.

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

One of my favorite activities for this year has been my Crime Scene Investigations that we were able to do at the beginning of the year. We practiced inferencing by observing different pieces of evidence in order to figure out what crime had been committed and who was responsible for it.

Anything else you would like to share?

I am honored to be considered TASL’s May Librarian of the Month! I enjoy my job and love my students dearly! I look forward to a LONG career in my library!

Find Dereck on Facebook Dereck Hale.

West TN Librarian of the Month

Name: Stephanie Phelix

Hometown: Memphis, TN

School: Belle Forest Community School

School District: Shelby County Schools

Grades Served: PreK-5th Grade

Average # of Students Per Class: 22

What do you love most about being a school librarian?

What I love most about being a school librarian is the relationships that I build with my students. That relationship allows me to help them to find the book that would help change their lives.

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

If someone were to walk into Belle Forest Community School Library, they will see eye-catching book displays, flexible seating, students reading and engaging in learning centers, teachers collaborating on upcoming plans, and parents and community members working together. Our library is definitely the hub of the school.

What are you most proud of regarding your library program?

I am proud of the welcoming, inviting and inclusive environment that the library provides. It is truly a safe place for all. The library atmosphere helps to calm and relax you. You will find comfortable seating, soothing music, and even a fireplace!

What advice would you give a new librarian?

My advice is to connect with other librarians. Social media is a great place to start. You can develop your own Professional Learning Network (PLN). I have learned so much from various social media platforms.

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

One of my favorite activities is the Memphis Grizzlies Read to Achieve program. Students in grades 3-5 are challenge to read to 6 books in 6 weeks. Those students who complete the challenge attend a celebration at the FedEx Forum. It is a great way to promote reading and connect with the community! The students love the event!

Anything else you would like to share?

I am very passionate about every school having a fully funded library and an effective certified librarian. Libraries Matter. Libraries Transform.

Follow Stephanie on Twitter @phelix_the on Instagram @phelixthelibrarian on Facebook Phelix the Librarian and on youtube Phelix the Librarian.

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