October 2021 Librarians of the Month

Each month we honor three school librarians in TN as TASL Librarians of the Month. These amazing educators deserve recognition for their hard work and dedication. Learn more about our October 2021 Librarians of the Month below.

East TN Librarian of the Month

Name:  Michelle Parry

Hometown:  Maryville

School:  Alcoa Middle School

School District:  Alcoa City Schools

Grades Served: 6-8

Average # of Students Per Class: 25

What do you love most about being a school librarian?

I love sharing my passion for books and reading with our students and watching them find just the right series or books for them. 

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

They would see students working on research (I teach 8th Grade Research/CTE),  browsing the shelves for books,  working at the puzzle table, riding the exercise bike while reading, and more.  It can be quiet on some days and noisy on others.  I love both! 

What are you most proud of regarding your library program? 

I believe our students love coming to the library and feel welcome.  Our system promotes building relationships,  and I try my best to do that with books and other library resources. 

What advice would you give a new librarian? 

Be flexible!  Each day is different. 

Follow Michelle on Twitter @_AMSLibrarian

Middle TN Librarian of the Month

Name: Amy Bratcher

Hometown: Hendersonville, TN

School: Robert Ellis Middle School

School District: Sumner County Schools

Grades Served: 6-8

What do you love most about being a school librarian?

Of course, I love helping students find just the right book, especially those who have convinced themselves they do not like reading. Before becoming a librarian, I spent 14 years in the classroom as a 7th grade teacher. As the librarian, I love getting to know students from all grade levels. The differences in personalities and maturity levels are fascinating; every day brings something new.

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

On any given day, a visitor might see students perusing the shelves for that perfect book, a group of students partaking in an intense UNO competition while other students are finishing research projects, the Cougar News Network student broadcast crew filming and editing footage, teachers conducting Socratic Seminars, students curled up with a good book, various club and faculty meetings, and the yearbook staff feverishly trying to meet deadlines. I do not have a quiet library, and I love it!

What are you most proud of regarding your library program?

I am most proud of providing a welcoming, safe space where students are comfortable and supported in their reading choices. I genrefied the library’s fiction which gives students easier access to books they are interested in reading. I have also prioritized diversifying our collection so students have access to stories and authors that reflect their own lives.

What advice would you give a new librarian?

Take time your first year, don’t rush into immediate large-scale changes. Get to know your collection, patrons, and faculty so you can appropriately address their needs, whether it’s through developing a relevant collection or creating a welcoming environment. You cannot change everything overnight; take small, manageable steps that can make an immediate impact.

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

This is not necessarily an activity, but this year I am focusing on increasing our Manga collection. This is totally out of my comfort zone, as I am not a Manga reader. However, my students are. I cannot keep Manga on my shelves! I personally invited student patrons who consistently check out Manga to be a part of my newly formed Manga Student Advisory Committee. We are meeting in the mornings to evaluate our current collection and determine what series to add to our shelves. It has been a great way to get students involved who might otherwise not join other clubs our school offers.

Follow Amy on Instagram @books_and_bobbypins and follow her library @EllisMSLibrary

West TN Librarian of the Month

Name: Krista Grace

Hometown: Jackson, TN

School: South Gibson County Middle School

School District: Gibson County Special School District

Grades Served: 5-8

Average # of Students Per Class: 25

What do you love most about being a school librarian?

I love help students develop a love of reading. I also truly enjoy being of assistance to my staff by finding resources that they need or helping them with technology needs as the lead tech in our school.

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

They would see me interacting with students, working on something to help a staff member or working with my collection.

What are you most proud of regarding your library program?

I am very proud of my Hornet Book Squad. They are my right hands in the library. I also am proud of how I have develped my collection in the seven years that I have served here at SGCMS. I enjoy helping the staff at my school with whatever their needs may be.

What advice would you give a new librarian?

First and foremost, I would advise a new librarian join TASL to surround themselves with awesome librarian mentors to pick their brains and to always learn something new. Never stop learning! I am always looking for the next thing that will help my teachers or engage my students. When you start at a new school, don’t change anything that first year, sit back and learn what your students enjoy reading, and how you can assist your staff. It is so important to have an understanding of your school population before you begin to put your stamp on things. Use that first year to establish relationships with your administration and your staff. Make learning fun for your students and establish a rapport with them, so that they seek out the library and YOU.

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

The program that is most popular in my library right now is BreakoutEDU. The kids love working on the digital escape rooms through BreakoutEdu. When I say something about moving to a new activity or lesson, they balk and beg for us to keep doing the escape rooms. I usually capitulate, because this program encourages collaboration, using higher order thinking skills, and problem solving. I purchase the teacher subscription each year for only $100.00 and I definitely get my monies worth. The link to access BreakoutEdu is https://breakoutedu.com. Another activity that they enjoy doing is using Cubelets. They love seeing how many different configurations of robots that they can come up with and what they can make them do. I guess you could say that my students really enjoy technology activities.

Anything else you would like to share?

I am very honored to have been chosen as Librarian of the Month for West Tennessee. I have been a member of TASL since 2009, when I became a librarian. Through TASL, I have had the opportunity to hone my skills as a librarian, and meet many wonderful friends from across the state of Tennessee. I have served TASL as the Awards Chair for two years, I have also chaired TASL Road Trip, and found many other ways to help serve our organization. If you have never volunteered within TASL, I highly recommend jumping on board. You will be all the better for it, and you will also make some lifelong friends.

Follow Krista’s library on Facebook.


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