black eyed susan flowers in a bunchMaryland's Monthly Amazing School Librariansblack eyed susans in a bunch


Nominate yourself! Nominate a friend! Help us to celebrate the amazing school librarians around our state each month: Click Here for the Nomination Form 


January 2021

Mary Brooke Fitzpatrick
School Librarian
St. Leonard Elementary School
Calvert County Public Schools
 
Ha! What makes me amazing? It is the old cliché… I’m amazing because I’m part of an amazing (truly amazing) team. Being one enthusiastic librarian on an incredible team of amazing Calvert County Elementary School Librarians who enjoy sharing, creating, collaborating, and brainstorming with each other and then working together to write and create lessons and then share other lessons that we each design on our own makes me amazing. We build each other up… we support each other with suggestions, resources and encouragement which goes a long way, especially during these days of distance learning. On a team of eleven librarians, we each have our own styles, interests, and strengths, so it’s great to be continually inspired but not threatened by the talents and personalities of each teacher librarian. I love offering my students opportunities to hear new stories, learn new applications and foster their own sense of wonder. One of my charges each year is to work within my budget to choose new books. It’s a time-consuming task that I love. I spend a lot of time reading reviews, pondering published suggested lists and contemplating recommendations before placing an order. I consider the interests of my school community and balance that with the trends and recommendations of experts in the field. It’s important that my library collection includes a variety of popular topics and authors as well as a variety of viewpoints and cultures that reflect diversity. Fostering a nurturing environment where students share, care and learn is the focus of my library and the lessons I deliver. My intention is for students to open their minds and hearts to the world around them as they learn new facts, skills, lessons, and interests.

One of my favorite lessons is based on the book, Drawn Together by Minh Le’. It was one of a series of lessons that focused on the 2019-2020 Maryland Black-Eyed Susan nominated books. Before going virtual, we read the book and discussed the story. It does not have a lot of text, so students had to focus on the illustrations and see how the story was conveyed through the details; through the expression of the characters, the meaning of the choice in illustrations, the symbolism within the two styles of drawing and then the transformation within the two characters and their style of drawing. It is a book that needs to be savored and not just tasted! There were a lot of “Oh yeah”s, and “Oh, look at how”s.” Once we transitioned to virtual lessons, students were given the choice to use one of our school’s databases to research Vietnam and record what they learned (in a document, Wixie or Power Point), look up a Vietnamese recipe (or recipe from another culture) and make it, or create a drawing with at least one other person. They were also encouraged to: listen to the story read by the author, listen to an author interview and contact a grandparent or special person to talk about things have changed and/or stayed the same since they were a child. The 


December 2020

 

Christine Peeler
School Librarian
Heather Ridge School
Frederick County Public Schools
 
I absolutely love being a librarian. I love everything about it. I love the books and the technology and the students and the staff. I think that love shows through every day in my work. I want the best for everyone that I serve so I am always willing to help in any way possible. I have great rapport with the staff at Heather Ridge and get to collaborate often with them. I have collaborated with ELA and Art and Health and just about every subject you can think of at HRS. My biggest goal is getting everyone to love reading as much as I do. I know how important reading is not only for enjoyment but for increasing vocabulary and improving reading skills that students will use their entire lives. I do my best to provide a diverse collection of books, eBooks, and audiobooks for those I serve. I try to get to know my students so that I can find that one book that gets them hooked on reading. I know though, that reading is hard for some of my students so I make sure I have plenty to keep their minds busy - hands on activities that require them to think and strategize and I even sneak in a little reading with those activities. My library - whether real or virtual - is a welcoming space for everyone. Anyone can stop by the library anytime - for a good book, a hands on activity, a friendly face and conversation or just a quiet place to be.
 
One of my proudest accomplishments is receiving the ALA Library Census Equity Fund Grant. At Heather Ridge School, I lead the Parent Advisory Committee, serve as the Leadership Team’s community coach, and was part of the team that worked toward our designation as a Community School. We serve our students and our community. That is why the grant was so important. It was a way for HRS to give back. First...by providing a hot meal and second...by encouraging families to complete the Census so the community will receive vital future government funding. The grant provided me the opportunity to teach our students about the Census. Many had never heard of it. In turn, they were able to share what they learned with their families to help take some of the mystery and fear out of completing the Census. I met with many obstacles but am happy to report that we persevered and were able to do something good for our students and community. I decided to use the money to host a Census dinner in April. People could come for a free meal, ask questions, and complete the Census online. Then COVID19 happened and the dinner was cancelled. I hoped that schools would open in the fall so we could reschedule but that didn’t happen. My next plan was for an outside to-go dinner. We were finally granted permission. On September 29th, just days before the end of the Census, we gave away 175 chicken dinners in less than two hours and helped 16 households complete the Census online. Frederick County’s participation percentage increased by .1% overnight. The event was enjoyed by all. Even though we wore masks, used hand sanitizer and stayed far apart, it felt just a little bit like back to normal.

November 2020

 

Holly Fuhrman
School Librarian
Shiloh Middle School
Carroll County Public Schools

I am a leader in my school community. But I am first and foremost a teacher. I am accessible to students and teachers for media resources and ideas for lessons. I welcome any and all opportunities to collaborate on research skills and projects. I will take an idea and produce a lesson that incorporates technology and encourages higher level thinking skills. It is my hope that our students will use their strengths, talents, and interests to create outstanding work. I am passionate about teaching and I use humor to engage my students. I do my best to make learning fun and engaging so that my students often don’t realize they are learning. I promote our library through social media, and I offer students extracurricular activities like Makerspace experiences, the S.C.O.R.E. Challenge, and Locked into Reading. I do my best to be a cheerleader for all of our school's projects and I’m always thinking of ways I can promote them in our Media Center. I always provide help, ideas and time to make our teachers the best they can be.

One of my colleagues who teaches 8th grade U.S. History often wanders off the edges of the map in regard to teaching his American history content. He is always looking for ways to engage and challenge his students, and I have literally become a co-conspirator! I have worked with him to design lessons on Civil War battles using Google Earth, created breakout rooms that focused on the Lincoln assassination, and helped to design and create an Instagram journal that detailed Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny. We have collaborated on designing a research project on the Founders where each student is assigned one of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention and then researches and creates a Facebook page for their assigned delegate. I honestly cannot think of a unit of study in his U.S. History class that he and I have not worked on---many of my ideas can be found in each of his units and are often used as part of the summative projects for the students to demonstrate their knowledge.


 

October 2020

 

Christopher Angus
School Librarian
Windy Hill Elementary School
Calvert County Public Schools

Christopher Angus is the school librarian at Windy Hill Elementary School in Owings, MD. This is his second year in Calvert County Public Schools. He was a school librarian in Anne Arundel County Public Schools prior to joining CCPS. Mr. Angus has made an incredible impact in the year that he has been a member of the CCPS team. He has implemented a strategic plan for growing his library that includes weeding out books that are no longer relevant, updating the collection, and revising and revamping his lessons to increase student engagement. In Mr. Angus' library, students work collaboratively using databases, engaging with literature, and learning to code using Scratch and Code.org. He is always quick to volunteer to assist with district wide projects, such as coaching the creation of Libguides and joining the computer science committee for the district. He's truly a team player who makes the library an amazing place to be - in person and virtually!

I am sure that Mr. Angus could point to a lot of amazing lessons he has taught, but I want to share my favorite that I've viewed in the past year. One day, I wandered into Mr. Angus' library to find him hiding the pages of a book from view while his students wrote down what they thought was going to happen next. As they held up their predictions, and found out just how wrong those predictions were, the laughter, the ooohhhs and aaaahhhhs and the sheer joy on the faces of the kids made my entire day bright. His masterful telling of the story, the prediction, the engagement - it made the library the place to be! Thanks Mr. Angus for being the MMASL.