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).

Spotlight on St. Albans Town Educational Center!

By Judy Kaplan, April 2018

Michael Flanagan claims to be the “luckiest teacher at St. Albans Town Educational Center,” (SATEC) because he has a “dream job” in a fabulous learning space-the school library.  

After 12 years as a grade 5-6  teacher, Michael transitioned into the role of school librarian two years ago, just as the facility was being renovated and upgraded from a traditional to an active learning space.  The school welcomes over 780 prek-8th graders and there is something for everyone in the school library.

Michael says, “The best part of the job is that I get to work with everyone.”  He is passionate about building relationships with all library users, from the youngest preschoolers to the those moving on to high school, as well as staff members and parents.  He is proud that the preschoolers tell him that the library is their favorite place in the school.

Books and reading are central to connecting all of the community through stories, and guiding kids to find the just right book is Michael’s cup of tea -or smoothie!

As you click through the slides, you will see various aspects of a contemporary library space that can adapt to a multitude of possible uses-not just during the school day, but in the evenings by community groups.  Michael has also curated 24/7 access to a virtual library website with lots of choices for users, so check it out, too.

When you visit the library, you will be amazed by the size and the variety of spaces for active learning.  The main communal space for large gatherings is technology rich and flexible with moveable furniture, and spots for demonstrations and presentations. Surrounding the central area are other sections for quiet reading and access to nonfiction collections, and another open room for picture books, early chapter books, and fiction.   A YA collection is growing each year and is supplemented with titles borrowed from the Bellows Free Academy (high school), and the St. Albans Free Library. Parts of the collection have been genrefied, and eye-catching displays appeal to browsers, and seekers of knowledge and the latest popular literature titles.

A small classroom space can be used for class meetings or small group work. The prek-4th grades are scheduled in the library at least once a week, with the 5-6 grades on a quarterly fine arts schedule.  Grades 7 & 8 have flexible schedules, and Michael sees 4-6 classes a day. It is a busy place-just the way Michael likes it. Fortunately, he has a full time assistant, Sarah Allerton, who for many years was the children’s librarian at the public library, and keeps the ship sailing along.

Staffing in the library is really quite exceptional, and it extends to incorporating technology services within the space.  Technology is integral to learning in the library space, and Tony Galle, the technology director has his desk in a central spot.  He and Michael collaborate to provide just in time learning, co-teach lessons, and help colleagues develop and teach curriculum units.  The 5-8 graders have 1:1 chromebooks. All students have access to technology through a “collaboratory,” another room in the library. It is a combination makerspace and an audio and green screen studio. A tech specialist, Tim Rouselle shares his expertise with all who need some help.    This is an amazing model for integrated learning, and visitors are welcome. Come for a visit, and bring your colleagues!

Thank you Michael for sharing your enthusiasm and your wonderful library in beautiful St. Albans, Vermont!

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