“There and back again” seems like an appropriate title of my journey to becoming a certified teacher librarian. Even though I am a “fresh voice” in the land of Oregon school libraries, I am not a stranger. My adventure began over 17 years ago when I was a third grade teacher at St. Clare Elementary school in Portland. The school library was run by parent volunteers and being the teacher with a reading endorsement, good tech skills and a willingness to learn landed me the position as the school’s first librarian. Those early days were filled with fun book promotions and read-alouds but also the challenge of cataloging the entire library with little training.
Twists and turns and new opportunities sent me to Valley Catholic School in Beaverton where I taught technology classes to middle and high school students. There I immersed myself in the world of computer applications, video production, graphic design, and journalism. I completed my Masters of Educational Technology at Pepperdine and discovered the power of networked learning for myself and my students. The opportunity to attend the Google Teacher Academy and to present at library and technology conferences opened my eyes to a whole new world of educators who were passionate about teaching and learning.
Blazing a new trail I have now returned to the library but this time bringing with me a whole new set of technology skills to La Salle Prep. This part of the journey includes completing my Library Media Endorsement at Portland State and the joy of discovering a network of librarians through OASL.
So what have I learned along the way that I can bring to my new school? My adventures took me everywhere – they were all so different and yet they each changed me in their own way.
“Persevere” was a favorite word of Sr. Dolores Doohan, a beloved teacher at St. Clare. You must have perseverance if you love to learn and I have learned this lesson well. Learning is tough. It’s hard work and its always a privilege to be part of the process. I remember being impressed with the dedication of high school students at Valley Catholic who researched, wrote, filmed and edited a documentary about teens and technology. One of my favorite quotes is from Lloyd Alexander and I believe it is so true: “We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it … than we do from learning the answer itself .”
I appreciate those who have encouraged me and pointed me down the path. I first met Victoria McDonald (2010 Oregon Secondary Librarian of the Year) when I was at St. Clare. She was always so positive and offered helpful advice. I’m thrilled that we now work on staff together! Sue Osborne’s dedication and efforts to support the needs of her teachers at Valley Catholic taught me the value of hard work and aligning information literacy skills with the curriculum. I will always think of Sue, now retired, and her impressive collection of collaborative project samples from teachers.
My own experience of developing an online PLN (Personal Learning Network) has helped me stay connected with other tech-loving teacher librarians. Reading the blogs of Joyce Valenza, Buffy J. Hamilton, Gywenth Jones, and Doug Johnson has inspired me and challenged my thinking as a teacher librarian. I stay connected to my PLN through Twitter (#tlchat), ISTE’s SIGMS, and TLchat webinars.
I am ready for the next leg of my journey. I have already learned so much from my PSU professors, Ruth Murray, Deanna Draper, Nancy Sullivan, Reba Parker and Dolores Johnston. I am thankful to be a recipient of the OASL Joyce Petrie scholarship this year. I can’t wait to be more involved in OASL and work together towards stronger school libraries.
I am ready to find resources and support the new STEM Academy at my school. I am thrilled that La Salle has adopted collaborative technology tools like Google Apps and Moodle. It’s been fun introducing my book club to goodreads.com and seeing the power of social media transform them as readers. I look forward to the joy and excitement on a student’s face when you show them the arrival of much anticipated book. I’m glad to still have the opportunity to stay connected with my students by teaching a Multimedia/Web Design class. Blending the teacher librarian role with technology is the perfect combination for me.
The journey is priceless. Who knows what the bend around the next corner will bring.