This week's post is from Daniel Everhart, first year library media coordinator, from Southwood Elementary School.
Let me start by saying I am an inexperienced media coordinator. I love sharing ideas and reading blogs and have wanted to be a part of our discussion all year. I have learned so much from reading your ideas and listening to your discussions at our meetings. In no way do I claim to be an expert in our field. I consider myself privileged to hold this position. I am the media coordinator at Southwood, the school I learned to read in, the school I heard “Where the Wild Things Are” for the first time, and the school where I fell in love with books. Obviously I am also sentimental. I have served as an educator for 13 years now. Half of this time was spent as a classroom teacher and the other half was spent as a curriculum coach (I despise the term lead teacher). As an idealist I came into education believing I could change the world. I believe in public education as much as I believe that the sky is blue and grass is green. In all reality I am a kid at heart. In my first years as an educator the idea of becoming burnt out was unfathomable. As the years progressed and I analyzed data, and more data, and more data, I began to feel that burn. Over the past few years I continued to give my heart and soul to this profession but every day it was hard to overcome the frustration with the “system”. Making the transition to my new job has rekindled my passion and my idealism. After the first semester I am still blissfully ignorant (the fixed asset inventory will probably challenge some of these feelings).
There are many variables in a school. Some of these variables include county mandates, state mandates, testing, behavior, parental involvement, schedules, staff relationships, and student achievement. On any given day one or more of these variables may take away the pleasure that is to be found in our jobs. It is easy to go down one of these rabbit holes and lose sight of what matters. My dad taught me to dissect life into what matters and what does not. In my short time as a media coordinator I have been working to identify what truly matters in this profession.
Students and their teachers are hounded daily about reading achievement. This isn’t intentional at the school level but it is unavoidable with current mandates. With all of the focus on increasing reading levels it is easy for students to miss out on the purpose of reading. We read to learn, we read to understand, we read to grow, and we read to learn more about the human perspective. True readers don’t read to show off how well they can comprehend, read with fluency, or determine the meaning of every word on a page. Those who are literate, read because they have questions, they read for the emotional journey, and they read to fulfill a yearning for knowledge. This is where we come in. The library must be a safe place for students of all reading levels and with all reading interests. This means our focus can’t be on having perfectly straight shelves, exact percentages of each genre, and the library will certainly not be a quiet place at all times.
This year I have been focused on building relationships, learning patron interests, and making the media center a place that students want to be. I ask students what kinds of books they want for the media center. I search out special books for the kids who aren’t quite sure what they want to read, I arrange special areas for the students to take ownership of, and I sell books like a used car salesman. After I teach my lesson each week the kids run down the steps to get to the books, they are on me about when I am going to order the book they asked about, and they introduce books to me that I haven’t read. It isn’t my media center! I want Southwood’s media center to belong to our students. I do my best to keep it neat and organized but at the end of the day if I have carts of books that need to be put away and the shelves look like the bread and milk shelves during a 2 inch NC snow forecast, then I feel like I have done my job. The essence of what we do is not just to build literacy but also to fight aliteracy. It doesn’t matter if a child knows how to read but doesn’t relish the excitement of this skill. Thank you for taking me in this year and letting me be a part of this profession. Thank you for making feel like a kid again, like a new teacher again, and like that idealist that can change the world.
Welcome to the official blog just for DCS library media programs. Enjoy new posts from one of our many contributors and follow along to see the amazing things happening in Davidson County school libraries.