On Monday, March 19, 2018, I visited Laura Franck, library media specialist at Perrysburg Junior High School. Perrysburg, with a population of just over 20,000, is located 12 miles southwest of Toledo. Perrysburg is home to four elementary schools, one intermediate school, one junior high school, and Perrysburg High School. Perrysburg Junior High School is housed in the old Perrysburg High School Building.
The media center is located on the first floor of the building. As you enter the media center, one of the first things you notice is this giant Wonder display. Visible from the hallway and the media center, it is made from sticky notes.
Wonder precepts, such as grit, kindness, friendship, were used throughout the year to guide the teacher/student groups that meet every two to three weeks. Entitled the Jacket Way, each teacher meets with approximately eighteen students for an activity that uses one of Mr. Browne’s precepts from the book, Wonder, as a focus for the lesson.
As I wander around the media center, I see that seasonal sticky note art covers the windows to the hallways – a tulip, a yellow jacket, a duck, and a butterfly. Laura explains that her students design them using sticky notes that are recycled for use by students and staff.
Sticky note displays are not the only things the students create. As Laura genrefied the collection she called on her students to design the signs. Laura has also rearranged the media center to accommodate a makerspace that includes all kinds of opportunities for the approximately 800 7th and 8th grade students to create. While I was visiting, a group of students came in to the media center to try their hands at putting together the community project – the clock.
As we conversed behind the circulation desk, Laura has student library assistants (8th graders) who check out books for students and direct students on where to go to for Chromebook help. Laura explains that the Tech Office has recently moved to a room off the media center. The technological side of the profession is “what interested me while attending library school. I’ve tried to be one of the early adopters in the building/district as it rolled out. Now I’m afraid, the biggest challenge is trying to keep up with it.”
The most rewarding time as a library media specialist says Laura is “working with students. The biggest reward is matching a student to the right book or resource at the right time. I’ve always been as an adviser in some sort of extracurricular activity, whether it be student council, yearbook, or Quiz Bowl. Taking on these activities, as well as volunteering for other activities, enables student to see me in a different light.” Her concern about students academic as well as social emotional development is seen everywhere in the media center. One such example is dictionary definitions that was started by one of her students who loves words. Students come in to the media center, look up words in the dictionary, write the definition, and draw illustrations. Other word games are also found throughout the media center. She describes an “ah ha” moment for a student to which she contributed – “the best moments are the little things, like making a connection to a student with behavior issues who finds the library as one of their safe havens, helping a student with an information need, or watching students “play” with items in the makespace, and work diligently to troubleshoot a problem.
Laura’s passion for reading is also evidenced throughout the media center. Enticing book displays are found in every nook and cranny. Some are found on book carts, some in re-configured bookshelves, and others, such as the Award winners, scroll on a monitor.
How many media centers do you know of that has a mummy? During Laura’s 21-year career at
Perrysburg Junior High School she says “every day is different. You think you know what to expect, but there are always surprises and challenges that keep you on your toes.” The mummy is one such surprise. Sixth graders in the building use to complete Egyptian projects that, due to the number and size of them, were displayed in the media center. One student worked with his father in his father’s workshop to create a sarcophagus complete with a mummy. Knowing the project would be displayed in the media center due to its size, the sarcophagus conveniently came with shelves that can be inserted when the mummy wears out its welcome.
What do you see as the greatest challenge in your work as a library media specialist? Laura voices what many library media specialists express “constantly trying to reinvent and better yourself with every new idea.” For Laura, the challenge centers around reconnecting with teachers and their classes after the building’s major shift in schedule.
Laura served for two years on the OELMA Board as Northwest Region Director. She chaired the Nominations Sub-committee this year and if you visited the OELMA booth at the 2018 Ohioana Book Festival you would have seen Laura. You can follow Laura on Twitter – @franckle
Library Media Specialist
The most rewarding time as a library media specialist:
“Working with students. The biggest reward is matching a student to the right book or resource at the right time. I’ve always been as an adviser in some sort of extracurricular activity, whether it be student council, yearbook, or Quiz Bowl. Taking on these activities, as well as volunteering for other activities, enables student to see me in a different light.”