Sunday, March 6, 2016

Library Aides: An Essential Part of a Well Balanced School Library Program

Ms. Kimberly Johnson, Library Aide at James Clemens High School

It has been a trend among school districts across the country to either cut funding for school libraries, eliminate funding for library aides, replace certified librarians with a library aide, or completely do away with school libraries altogether. At the same time school districts are also working towards implementing 1:1 Digital Initiatives, providing differentiated technology professional development for teachers, establishing MakerSpace, and creating STEM programs and then flounder to find personnel to head up these programs and make them an intricate, viable part of the school culture.

The school librarian should be the person administration looks toward to spearhead these innovative programs  

What I think school administrators misunderstand is the roles of school librarians and library aides. School librarians in Alabama must have a teaching degree and classroom experience before seeking a Master's degree in Library Media.  As part of this degree school librarians are proficient in curriculum, common core, the latest in educational technology, and are prepared to be leaders in the school with regards to innovative educational programs.  

Library aides are essential support staff that, among other things, tend to clerical tasks that must be taken care of from checking books in and out, cataloging new and donated books, preparing overdue slips, to name just a few time consuming tasks. 

This year I have established a MakerSpace, ditched Dewey and genrefied our collection, taught classes ranging from Google basics to eportfolios and everything in between, and offer professional development.  It would simply be IMPOSSIBLE to have accomplished ANY of this without the support of my library aide, Ms. Kimberly Johnson.  Without her support I would be buried under clerical tasks with little to no time to devote to developing an innovative library program.

I have been fortunate in my 24 years as a school librarian to have some of the most amazingly talented library aides that have been the "wind beneath my wings" that has allowed me to excel, develop professionally, and most importantly, positively impact student learning and teacher instruction.  

Ms. Gabriella Dubose was my library aide the first year I was a librarian. Without her help and guidance I don't know that I would have survived that first year.  Years later Gabriella got her teaching degree and then her Library Media Degree and we ended up working together as co-librarians which was a great treat.  Later, when Gabriella moved off to her own school library I had the great honor of joining her and the inspiring Sharon Draper for a day.  

Me, Sharon Draper, & Gabriella Dubose

Ms. JoAnn Jones was the library aide for both myself and Ms. Dubose.  Ms. Jones was a seasoned veteran at the school and helped to orient us to the ins and outs of the school, teachers, students and administrators.  Ms. Jones was and is an inspiration to me and I am so proud of her and her amazing daughter, Juanita.  Ms. Jones demonstrated every day the value of hard work, personal sacrifice for the betterment of her child, and leading the way through her actions.  If I could even be 1/10th of the person she is I would be a better person.

JoAnn Jones & Juanita Jones

This year I have been fortunate to have yet another extraordinary library aide, Ms. Kimberly Johnson. Ms. Johnson couldn't have been more perfect for the changes we have implemented together in the James Clemens High School Library.   Her artistic talents have been invaluable as we have redesigned, repurposed and established a MakerSpace in the JCHS Library.  In fact, Ms. Johnson has an Esty site and sells her crafts on the weekends at art fairs and other venues.  

The past week Ms. Johnson taught Ms. Shamwell's Fashion Design students how to make jewelry from recycled items, items from nature, and items inspired from a hardware store.  The kids were excited about learning from Ms. Johnson and have already been creating some beautiful items!

Ms. Johnson also continuously creates examples of items students can create in the arts and crafts section of the JCHS Library MakerSpace.  Below is just one example of many.

I am grateful everyday that not only do I have an amazing library aide, but a true friend. 

Jewelry Making w/Ms. Johnson

1 comment:

  1. Ms. Johnson is amazing! We are all so lucky to have her.