What an exciting time to be alive

January 19, 2009

I visit the bookstores at least once a month to replenish the books that seem to disappear off of the shelves or they are so loved that they look like they have been chewed up when returned.  One of those special books that always needs to be purchased over and over is “My Brother Martin” by Christine King Farris, illustrated by Chris Soentpiet.  It is a piece of  art as a sister remembers growing up with Martin Luther King, Jr.  I never tire of it and I always choke up at the words so preciously placed in the story. Chris Soentpiet was a guest at our school several years ago and I asked him about illustrating such a book of love.  He smiled and shared with me that it was an “honor”.

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Each time I read this particular book our students sit mesmerized and almost in disbelief that there was a time in this country that students of different color were not allowed to sit in the same classroom. 

I replaced the “Martin” book and happened upon another treasure that I must share with each of you.  Julius Lester, award winning author has blown me away with yet another one of his great books.  “Let’s Talk About Race”, illustrated by Karen Barbour.  Julius Lester begins the picture book  with the “hook ” of  “I am a story. So are you.” He walks us through how each person has many elements in their story – from family names and places to likes and dislikes.  The illustrations are dramatic and dazzling.  I continuously ask myself  aren’t books healing?  Again…I love my job.

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Happy New Year!

January 19, 2009

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Can you believe we are in the year 2009?    I remember thinking when I was about 10 years old that we would be driving cars that flew.  Of course, I still believe that will happen in my lifetime, I just want it to happen now.

I can’t wait to see what this new year will bring.  I resolved on the last day of school December 19th, that I would follow my Principal’s directive of really focusing on my family and not working over the holidays.  Believe me it wasn’t easy.   I found out I really have not been balanced when trying to make things happen in my school community.  I would just make things happen until I would collapse.  Now that I have seen the results of making time for self, I am even more driven to rest.  My family’s health has improved, I read a ton of books, traveled, hung out with friends and rejuvenated myself.  It was the best ever. Looking back at everything that has happened in the last 5 months has been exhilarating.  From hosting book fairs to generate funds to operate the media center, entertaining a great guest author aka Bruce Junek  to kick off the new school year, celebrating a wonderful Literary Pumpkin Festival with the best costumed book characters seen anywhere, participating in a humbling flag-raising (Veterans Day), participating in a thankful Kindergarten Pow Wow and finally icing the media center cake with “Cookies with Auntie Claus”. Woo! that was truly a trip.  Arriving back, my Principal tagged me to create a Wordle.  What’s a Wordle you ask?  Well, it is best said in the creator’s words…wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends. wordle

What a cool way to be creative. So here it is.  A word picture that is all about me.


Bringing the world into our school community!

November 14, 2008

tandberg_barcoIn this time of financial turmoil, educators are having to think differently when planning field trips and professional development opportunities.  What one would think as impossible became the possible when we were asked 2 1/2 years ago to allow educators to come in virtually using interactive videoconferencing (IVC) into our classrooms.  At first, we only had a couple of videoconferences each month and then it grew to several a month. Peers from our county and surrounding counties met in the Schultz Center for a day of training and when the trainer wanted to emphasize a strategy or concept they had been discussing earlier in the day, they would just turn to the larger than life screen and say, “let’s visit a real class working with this strategy”. Then magically the entire room of teachers tuned into a real-life application.  The video conferencing shown below is one between Jacksonville and L.A.

Can you imagine the impact this educational resource made on those lifelong learners?  As the tech wizard inside the walls of the school, I have been the “fly” on the wall and seen the benefits of this powerful tool.  Students are so use to the equipment postioned in their classrooms I don’t even think they realize it is there until the teachers start communicating with the teachers outside our walls.  Two months ago I met with two inspirational women (Elizabeth DeZemler and Jan Zenetis) who work for a company called Tandberg.  “Videoconferencing” is their business and they support the vision that I carry in my heart.  That vision is one where our administration and instructors will no longer get in to a car to attend a district meeting, they would use blogs, online surveys and video conferences to supplement traditional methods of the face to face meetings and training sessions.  This vision would not only meet the professional needs of our teachers but would also meet the field trip needs of our students.

Jan Zenetis (co-author) of the book Videoconferencing for K-12 Classrooms presented me with so many ideas and ways that we can use this powerful tool through her book.      

The dream will become a reality soon.  You can count on it.  I truly believe that by allowing the world to step into our world that we have opened the doors to immeasurable opportunities.  The virtual field trips alone that we are already planning will empower our kids and teachers as we make the world a little bit smaller and our life experiences a little bit richer.


Juggling it all?

September 29, 2008

I have always believed that an effective media specialist’s job is never complete at the end of the school day. Case in point… The day begins listening to voice mails and reading numerous emails (cries for help – troubleshooting technology needs, VCR/DVD problems and yes, even video editing).  Once the media team meets at 7:00 a.m. we divide and conquer the priorities that have to be addressed so our teachers can serve our students effectively.  In many cases, we have to troubleshoot after the students are out of the building.  I am just lucky that are team is always about serving others or I don’t know how the teachers would be able to accomplish all they need to get done.  We have each become amazing jugglers and have even giggled about our going “on the road” with our act.

The juggling of teaching classes, checking out resources, video-conferencing and planning for upcoming events, (book-fairs, Battle of the Books competition, literary pumpkin festival, kindergarten Pow-Wow, 1st grade pajama sleepover, author/illustrator visits, cultural arts festival and so much more) makes every day different and exciting. I am so lucky to be living my dream.

Can you believe that this is a pumpkin?

We truly believe that we are the one stop shop for our beloved school.

Love, The Book Fairy


Gearing up

August 29, 2008

Alright, so we’ve gotten a couple of weeks under our belt now, and we’re seeing everything fall back into place as everybody finds their rhythm for the new year. We at the media center have been solving technology issues like crazy. Teachers have enough to worry about as they ready for a new year without having to worry about problems with their printers or computers, so we’ve been trying our hardest to get these things resolved. It takes time, but we’re getting there and we appreciate all of our teachers’ patience. We’re happy to help, but there are a lot of you and only a few of us.

Classes start coming to media next Tuesday. We’re especially excited about integrating this year’s technology-heavy theme, encouraging us to explore new ways to travel to uncharted territories. That’s what the media center is all about! We’re more than a library here. We are a place for children to dabble in all forms of media (books, web technologies, broadcast, animation, and beyond) in order to reach people in new ways.

I’ve been having fun stretching my creative muscles for various projects throughout the school. Most recently, helping out with two blog headers: Geeks from the Creek and Traveling Chet. And speaking of Geeks from the Creek, keep an eye on that blog, as Melissa Ross and I were crowned CCE’s first geeks. I guess that makes me some sort of uber geek. I’ve never been so honored…or insulted. I’m still trying to decide. Either way, I’m going to be presenting a little lesson on video editing to the teachers on our next early release day. We’ll be a school of Spielbergs before the year’s up, I’m sure of it.


Hello world!

July 17, 2008

The 2008-2009 school year had already begun the week after school ended. The media team (Jocelyn, Karen, Eric, JB and myself) immediately began brainstorming about our new theme from different locations from vacation spots all over the U.S. From the back porch of a cabin in the Blue Ridge mountains I started dreaming with artist extraordinaire, Karen Willett (from her pool in Jacksonville) and amazing set designer, Jocelyn (from her mama’s in Ashland, Alabama), not to mention my family.

I just love cell phones, don’t you?

Anyway, every year, our school carries a different theme to provide vision and build community for the students and teachers. In year’s past we have had “Mission Possible..No Kid Left Behind,” “Lights, Camera, Action…It’s Showtime,” “Blazing the Trail… 100% or bust,” “Performance Drives Success…the race is on,” and “Dreams Begin Here…Dream, Dare, Do.” Our Principal, visionary, Susan Phillips announces the theme the last day of the school to the faculty so they can prepare for the first day of school.

To give you an idea of what we do before the year begins, the Media Team plans the events, decorates the foyer and media center and creates an environment where students can feel free to dream culminating into a truly amazing experience.

The theme for this upcoming school year has certainly been a challenge, however we love it. Our video producer, the amazing Eric Blair always comes through with such a dramatic flair and he introduced the theme via video.

Chets Creek Elementary (Around the World in 180 days…The virtual learning adventure begins here)

Each grade level will represent a continent, so the school will become a multicultural experience. I can’t wait to see how it will all come together. List of things to find: old trunks, maps, countries’ flags, artifacts from different countries, and oh so much more. We are just beginning!

See you soon!

The Book Fairy