A decade-long technology revolution promoted by its library media specialist has made Kettle Moraine Middle School into one of the more technologically advanced schools in Wisconsin and one of the top academically performing middle schools in the state.
Jody Goswitz is in her tenth year running the school’s library media center. When she began working at the only middle school in the Kettle Moraine School District, the library media center had old computers, no web page, and no online databases. Goswitz has changed all of that, and now it is a technology-rich school with 350 computers available to its more than 1,000 students spread across six computer labs and the library media center itself.
“Anything I can get for her I will get,” Principal Charlotte Hall says in a study of the school’s library program completed by the Department of Public Instruction. “She is of a phenomenal caliber.” Hall adds that teachers so value Goswitz’s work that “they would do anything for her.”
The school board has adopted Hall’s attitude as well, budgeting half of a million dollars over five years for technology infusion in the school and library media center. In addition, an active Parent-Teacher Organization has also helped in fundraising efforts, raising money to purchase a dozen scanners and a 10-machine Macintosh computer lab for the library.
“The school board is very progressive by allocating $100,000 per year,” Goswitz said. “I was lucky enough to be a committee member charged with the planning and implementation of the allocations. This was a team of many talented people – Kettle Moraine’s Technology Department is phenomenal.”
Of course, getting technology is one thing; making use of it is an entirely different problem. However, Goswitz has also been in top form in training both teachers and students. In fact, because most students at the school have home computers and are motivated to learn and use a wide array of programs, they push teachers to learn cutting-edge technologies and integrate them into their lessons as well. Teachers thus look to Goswitz for help in this regard. Some projects Goswitz has played a significant role in providing aide instruction include student-made intranet web pages using Dreamweaver, a daily news cast created by the school’s students and podcasts of student-produced book talks and poetry.
Many times, however, it is Goswitz peppering the teachers with ideas. “She continually comes to teachers with ideas on how to enhance units and projects,” one teacher said in a study on the school’s library media program completed by the Department of Public Instruction. Another teacher stated that Goswitz has “revolutionized” the school’s curriculum. “She knows what learning is, what literacy is, knows what critical thinking is and can share that with others. She is relentless and driven. She pushes all of us to do what is right for students.”
The success of the Kettle Moraine library media center has resulted in a few “good” problems to have. One is scheduling difficulties. So many teachers want to take advantage of the library that they have to schedule months in advance just to get their classes in a handful of times a year. Another result of the success of the program is students moving to Kettle Moraine High School now arrive so well prepared that the high school has been pushed to get more technology to match that of the middle school.
In a day and age of when libraries are sometimes mistakenly seen as superfluous, it is heartening to see that the students at Kettle Moraine Middle School recognize Goswitz’s influence on their education: “The library media center,” stated one student, “is the key to everything else that goes on in the school.”
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