East Hill Elementary School principal Stacy Ward is the HFM BOCES School Library System Administrator of the Year. Ms. Ward was nominated for the honor by Canajoharie K-8 librarian Audrey Maldonado.
Ms. Ward was selected as a school administrator who demonstrates leadership in recognizing the library media center as an integral part of the total school program and has an active personal involvement in the program.
“I was totally surprised,” Ms. Ward said.
Although she won the award, Ms. Ward is quick to praise Mrs. Maldonado.
“I am lucky to work with Audrey,” Ward said. “She is innovative and forward thinking. Through her hard work, we are modernizing our library media center program.”
Mrs. Maldonado knew that the old model of a library—a place to find books for pleasure reading or reference—no longer meets the needs of today’s students. She researched ways to use the library media center to reinforce the skills students will need in their schooling and careers. She presented Ms. Ward with her ideas and together, they developed a bold plan to overhaul the elementary library program.
“I commend Ms. Ward for taking the risk implementing what has been known in library circles as best practice,” she said.
Gone are the days of going to library to learn about the Dewey Decimal System and to check out a book to read. Library is no longer a pullout special (like art or music). Instead, Mrs. Maldonado works directly with classroom teachers to infuse and integrate research skills into grade level content. In other words, children are learning to research and apply what they learn in everything they do in school.
“In years past, the librarian used to direct students to one piece of information,” she said. “Today, our students are surrounded by information. They need to become more savvy about finding and using legitimate information.”
A key part of her instruction is what she refers to as just-in-time teaching. That means teaching the skill alongside a classroom teacher while students are actually using it. It is more like hands-on training. Instead of learning about a skill, then trying to remember how to use it the the future, students learn while doing.
She said she hopes students will see the library as an important part of their whole school experience and that the skills they learn will benefit them throughout their lives. She credits Ms. Ward with giving children that opportunity.