Because of her ability to collaborate, Valerie Edwards has made the school’s library media center “highly productive and the heart of the school,” according to its principal, Paul Brost.
During her nine years as the school’s library media specialist, Valerie Edwards has played a vital role in determining the daily curriculum and environment at Monona Grove. In fact, the usual activities one associates with a librarian—shelving, cataloging and processing of materials—largely have been delegated to an aide. Instead, Edwards often works more like a librarian/teacher. In a typical week, she spends the majority of her time on activities with teachers and students. She meets with teachers weekly to discuss and plan instructional units that benefit curriculum and utilize the library media center and its resources. Edwards engages in collaborative teaching on four to five major units a year, with each unit running three or more weeks, and she also spends a few hours each week identifying materials for teachers. All of these efforts over the years have saved the school’s teachers countless hours of work, made them better teachers, and improved students’ academic experience and performance.
Another area Edwards excels in collaboration is her efforts to maintain a visible presence in Monona Grove’s academic affairs. She serves on several school and district committees that keep her informed about the curriculum and school activities. Edwards says her daily communication with teachers and students also helps keep her visible and knowledgeable about a wide range of issues.
Moreover, Edwards promotes library activities such as reports on collaborative curricular projects to the school board, announcing author visits in local newspapers, and program activities in the school newsletter.
Edwards also works with students to make Monona Grove’s library media center a desirable place for students. The general sentiment among the school’s teachers is that Edwards accessibility and willingness to help them has led to an increase in student usage of the library. Edwards has even taken students to a bookstore to pick out titles to be added to the school’s collections.
Brost believes Edwards is the biggest reason for the success of the library media center at Monona Grove. “Having the right person is huge,” he says. “The library media school is the heart of academics for the school. Edwards is both proactive and supportive in her role.”
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