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Secondary Media Specialists Create New Projects

Like their counterparts in elementary schools, the CHCCS media specialists in middle and high schools have stayed very busy since mid-March, when schools closed. In addition to the normal and ongoing digital support of both students and teachers, media specialists have created new projects to share with their school communities.

SaCola Lehr is the Media Specialist at Chapel Hill High School (CHHS), and the Poetry Anthology Project, housed on the library website, is largely her brainchild. It’s a collection of poems and stories that started as a modest endeavor but now encompasses contributions from many of Lehr’s CHCCS colleagues. As Lehr wrote, “The vision for this project is for any lover of poetry or the written word can come to this website and receive the gift of motivation and inspiration at any time, specifically using  poetry and the art of storytelling to cope, heal, and come together during this time.”

The collection comprises video recordings of CHCCS staff reading favorite or inspirational works of literature. The first video features CHHS Principal, Charles Blanchard, reading his message to the Class of 2020, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” Contributors include CHHS English teachers, media center staff, school counselors and others. Lehr shares her original poem, “Little Children” and Erica Kinney, Reading Specialist, reads another original work, “Thinking Outside of the Box.”

CHHS Mental Health Specialist, Erich Priest, assisted Lehr in developing a multi-use approach to the project, linking it to a website he has created to provide resources in support of mental health and wellness.  “She originally contacted me to ask me to record the reading of a poem, and discuss how to get the word out,” Priest said. “Our conversations and ideas then evolved into something that could be hopeful and inspirational for students, families, and staff throughout the school year, as a reminder that we are all here for each other. As May is Mental Health Awareness Month we added mental health information and crisis resources to the site, and will continue to add video and audio of CHHS staff members sharing words of encouragement through poetry.”

From East Chapel Hill High School (ECHHS), Media Specialist Tyson Hallet shared this message, “The library at East Chapel Hill High has moved its 13-Year Club display online! This display, featuring pictures of seniors who have been in the district since kindergarten, is one of our favorite traditions. You can see the display, and find a link at our library website. Ms Hallet, Ms Bierman and Mrs M are thinking of ALL of our seniors as they move on to their next adventure. CONGRATULATIONS WILDCATS!”

Sharon Kolling-Perin is the Media Specialist at Phillips Middle School (PMS). She wrote, “Since March 12, the middle school librarians have seen their jobs and responsibility change significantly, though the mission has remained the same - to support students in becoming lifelong learners, critical thinkers, and effective navigators of information and technology. On the final day before schools closed, the librarians worked hard to ensure that every student who needed books for the extended break at home would have them, checking out thousands of books to students over the course of one day. Since then, Mr. Graña, Ms. Parks and Ms. Steele and I have done a variety of things to provide easy access to resources, collaborated with teachers on lesson plans and teaching, provided professional development on technology, tools, and resources, and continued to celebrate the joy of reading and literacy. Among the many jobs the librarians have taken on and converted to virtual are:

  • formatting the school library websites for easy access to online books, audiobooks and other resources
  • creating virtual book clubs, gaming clubs, and videos to help students and families navigate online resources
  • providing professional development sessions to staff
  • writing and changing lesson plans for the new online learning environment
  • working to develop online book fairs
  • writing book reviews and giving virtual book talks to students
  • conducting online book readings
  • helping staff understand copyright 

As the school year winds down, please don’t forget to thank your School Media Specialists and their invaluable Media Center Assistants!