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).

Harwood Middle/High School Library

By Judy Kaplan

The next stop on the School Library Spotlight tour takes us to the Mad River Valley, along the spine of the Green Mountains.  Harwood Union Middle/High School welcomes about 650 students from Duxbury, Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield, Warren, and Waterbury.  Located in Moretown on busy Route 100, enthusiasts rush by to get to well known ski resorts, recreational areas, and towns to the north and south.  The communities take pride in their schools, and Harwood Union provides opportunities for both students and staff to excel.  

Megan Reed, the school librarian, is in her third year as the Harwood librarian.  Her previous role as a science teacher provides a first hand knowledge of curriculum, the implementation of Act 77, and Flexible Pathways which enhances her ability to collaborate with colleagues.  Megan is an active educational partner in classes throughout the school made possible because the library assistant, Celia Dehais, keeps the physical space humming while she is out and about. Celia is working on her MLIS, and brings both knowledge and experience that are great assets to the library program at Harwood. With a stable budget and flexibility in programming decisions, Megan can adjust the library to fit staff and student needs.

Megan believes it is important to embed library resources and services in classrooms while promoting the library as a flexible learning space that can accommodate multiple uses according to various needs and events.  She enjoys the eagle eye perspective of academic and social learning that being in her position affords as it helps her identify opportunities to support student learning.

Megan finds that listening closely to students and colleagues helps her identify changes that might improve library resources and services. After learning that students were looking for group collaboration spaces, she shifted the collection to make this desire a reality.  As shown in the slide deck, the space is large, open, has areas for presentation and group work, as well as quiet study spaces. The fiction collection is located in a separate space with inviting comfy chairs. Windows wrap around three walls of the main space, allowing a view into the surrounding woodlands.

Recently, the entire middle school has committed to a 20 minute daily reading block for literacy. The library is the go to place for resources, so it is busier than ever.  Megan and her assistant are just finishing up genrefying the middle school fiction collection, a year long project. Those who have tackled this job can understand that there are many aspects to getting it right!   Now when students rush in to find something to read, they are able to self select according to genres, and Megan can spend time in readers’ advisory with those who are not quite sure what they want.

Another new feature for the library is a digital media production studio adjacent to the circulation desk.  Equipment and devices for video production are available for student and staff projects.

In addition to her role as librarian at Harwood, Megan has several irons in the fire. As a co-leader in the sophomore teacher advisory program, Megan collaborates with Ellen Berrings, the Employment Specialist, Advisory, and PLP Coordinator, to guide students as they move to proficiency based graduation requirements for 2020 graduates. Along with other faculty members, Megan leads a group of tenth graders on a daily basis to offer small group support for academic and social learning as part of this advisory program.

Megan is excited to be working with two ELA teachers who are teaching a pilot course for Harwood’s new Capstone Project in which students will engage in research related to an area of personal interest. Megan has expanded the library website to support this research, and it has links for resources beyond the school. Megan will be involved in direct instruction in the classroom, and then with advising and guiding access to resources independently with students. A subscription to Noodletools will help organize student learning.  The teachers are thrilled with this dynamic resource, and the students are looking forward to a new adventure that is being launched during the next few weeks. Megan is providing professional development for teachers who are interested in using Noodletools in other classrooms, now that the word is out.

Another related initiative in the school targets wellness, and Megan is enthusiastic about being on a steering committee established by Tara Cariano, the School Counselor. Tara is a 2018-19 Rowland Fellow who has received a grant to spend the year exploring ways to integrate social emotional learning and supports for students and staff in the school experience.  It would be great to follow up with the results generated from this important conversation.

Megan looks forward to monthly meetings with the other school librarians in the district.  All elementary schools, and the other middle school, Crossett Brook, have certified librarian/ technologists, and they gather to share ideas and support new learning.  From those meetings, Megan was encouraged to become a part of the World of Difference Program at Harwood Union.   

Parting words from Megan-it pays to have a sense of humor when working with teens.  Here’s recent joke from some ninth grade boys:

“Why does a golfer carry an extra pair of pants?”  “S/He might get a hole in one!”

Contact Megan Reed with any questions or a request to visit:

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