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Kerry Woodard, Media Specialist, Harper’s Choice Middle School

March 10th, 2016

Kerry Woodard, brand new to the HCPSS this year, is bringing fresh ideas as a first year media specialist to Harper’s Choice Middle School. She is a strong believer in the mission of the Howard County School Library Media Program, which is to provide opportunities for students and staff to become effective users of ideas and information. In this technology age, that means “media specialists wear lots of hats,” Woodard said.

On a day to day basis, Woodard manages the library program but also is in charge of technology for the building. This can mean collaborating with teachers on research, finding ways to infuse technology into lesson plans, offering professional development on new technology, co-teaching or assisting students with class projects like National History Day. Woodard said, “There’s no typical day. One day I might be in a social studies class to help with research, or an English class might come in and I would do a book talk with them. Another day I’m catching up on technology repair requests and putting in book orders.”

Woodard comes to HCPSS with 6th grade social studies teaching experience from Caroline County, Maryland. While teaching a reading intervention class there, she got to talk about books with the students, which confirmed that library media was her true calling. Woodard then earned a master’s in school librarianship from McDaniel College, and through the program, she discovered “all that was involved with being a media specialist.” She realized the position was a perfect match with her interests in reading, utilizing technology, discussing books with kids and being a resource for teachers.

Woodard has a vast knowledge of literature and indulges her love of reading by making her way through the school’s library collection to provide recommendations and consider future additions. She enjoys these discussions with her middle schoolers because “you can have real conversations with them. They’re still excited about everything,” Woodard said.

Instructional Facilitator of Library Media Melissa Grabill said Woodard is “really open to building new relationships with students and staff, and working on making the media center really hers and working toward the future.”

Woodard is looking to modernize Harper’s Choice’s library media program, starting with her philosophical approach. Woodard said, “Before I had this position, I was worried it would be isolating as the only media specialist in the building.” But by the first week of school, she had immersed herself into the school community and continues to make herself available as a resource to everyone. She hopes students and teachers see the library as a safe, comfortable and accepting school hub to do work, hang out or create. Woodard believes, “It’s not my media center; it’s everyone’s.”

Harper’s Choice Middle School Principal Adam Eldridge said, “Mrs. Woodard has brought significant energy and creativity to her role. She has spent the year making our media center a truly usable resource for staff and students alike. It seems to me that the media center is a more vibrant space in Mrs. Woodard’s short time at HCMS. She has worked hard to make sure students know that they can use the media center beyond just visiting during a class.”

Her future plans include changing the library’s layout to better accommodate classes. She is hopeful about adding a Makerspace, which is a physical location where people can gather to share resources and knowledge, and work on projects. Eldridge said, “Mrs. Woodard’s creativity and willingness to try different approaches to the media center and her role as media specialist will help her lead our media program into the 21st century.”