Spotlight on Vermont!
No time to visit other school libraries in your busy schedule? Wish you could see what your colleagues are doing to embrace “future ready” school library programs? Want to build networking within your region?
Welcome to a new feature of the VSLA website that connects all professional school librarians, tech integrationists, and those who love school libraries in our small, but geographically challenging state. Let’s share our ideas by showcasing what is happening in your school or district. Each month or so, watch for “Spotlight on Vermont,” (not “Moonlight in Vermont”-that’s taken).
Lamoille Union Middle/High School
By Judy Kaplan
Spring comes late to the North Country- and this year has been no exception. A mid March visit to Lamoille Union Middle/High School located in Hyde Park, Vermont revealed stubborn snow and chilly temperatures, even though there were a few students who were wearing shorts! That was an indication of the warm spirits inside the hub of the school-the library. Meagan Towle, the school library media specialist, envisions a learning environment that is responsive to the varied interests of teens, and the expansive library provides areas to cater to those needs. Meagan is in a good position to make connections with the students as she graduated from LUHS in 2007, and after college, returned to the school as an assistant in the library. While gaining experience, she completed the graduate coursework for the school librarian endorsement. Then four years ago, she was hired as school library media specialist, a future ready school librarian. Meagan has been an agent for change on the staff, and welcomes new ideas to continue to improve student access to information and technology. An avid reader and lover of YA fiction, Meagan is determined to help teens find a just right book.
The library is situated centrally between the two physical buildings that house the middle school and the high school. With more than 750 students, and numerous staff, there is not much down time in the space. The central library space is wide open and large, with the collection spread strategically throughout the space. Adjacent to the main space are several smaller rooms for active learning. Conference rooms, a green screen room and recording studio, a research lab, and smaller work zones allow flexible use for multiple activities all at the same time. With such a busy place, the library is staffed from 7:15 am-5:15 pm, with three assistants and tech services support, so students have many helping hands.
The school library program is about building relationships with users, and giving them a voice, and choices for learning. Meagan seeks out colleagues for collaboration opportunities, and co-teaches research classes, and guides students as they explore passion projects. She has been collaborating with some foreign language teachers, and this past spring vacation, was a chaperone with other teachers and parents for a group of twenty students who traveled to Paris and Barcelona. Now that’s what I call collaboration!
The middle school schedule is flexible and responsive to curriculum content, once students have participated in orientation to resources classes. She encourages students to take ownership of programming by enlisting them to help with school wide library promotion for reading and literacy.
In the slides, you will get a snapshot of the kinds of activities that keep the library an exciting place for students and teachers. The first few slides are collages that Meagan created for my UVM course last fall. They illustrate the big picture overview of the school library program at LUMHS. Look closely to see some of the fun activities that happen during the school year, and you will notice students and teachers sharing a piece of the action.
The other slides show the various ways that the physical space is arranged. According to Meagan, the space is continually morphing, to adapt the learning environment. She struggles with having enough time (sound familiar?) for weeding to personalize the collection for students’ needs. Reference books are the current focus, since so many up to date resources are available through the online databases accessed through the library website.
What on the horizon for the school library? In the near future, whiteboard tables for collaboration are on the way, and next year-renovating the research lab into a makerspace. As always she is looking for new ideas to help students find a niche in the school library. Meagan welcomes visitors with a big smile, so stop by and say hello.
Contact Meagan Towle: firstname.lastname@example.org