Welcome to the 2015-2016 School Year!

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Brush the sand off of your shoes and start packing up those backpacks, because summer is coming to a close. I hope you all had a relaxing, exciting, and refreshing summer, and that you’re as excited as I am to get started with a brand new school year! My summer was filled with Books on Bikes, literacy projects, lots of relaxation, and some great reading (especially in my hammock in my backyard with a bowl of popcorn – my favorite way to spend a summer morning!). I love my time off, but I have to admit that by the time August rolled around, I missed my friends and family at Johnson and was ready to get back to work!

While I was at home relaxing, the library was hard at work. This space was used by several groups as a space to meet and grow professionally. Although the library is the center of learning and the heart of the school for our students, it also serves as a welcoming and invaluable professional development center for Johnson’s faculty and staff. From technology training to literacy development, the space is custom designed to be a collaborative learning environment for readers of all ages. In the photos below, Johnson staff attends a full day professional development session on reading strategies in the classroom.

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As usual, the Learning Leopard Library has big plans for this year. My main goal will be to continue supporting the love of literacy at Johnson by providing students with engaging, high quality, and high interest titles across multiple genres and platforms. The library helps students both to fall in love with reading and to become more confident, engaged readers. Along with supporting literacy, the library will continue to support and enrich curriculum for all grades and subjects, to increase material circulation, and to collaborate with teachers in the library and beyond.

The library will also continue to act as the technology hub for Johnson. This summer, I was busy behind the scenes redesigning the technology storage and checkout system to provide an easier, more streamlined system for teachers and staff. Laptops, e-Readers, iPods, digital cameras, camcorders, Chromebooks, Chromebases and Macbooks are all based out of the library tech system. You’ll see these tools used all over the school in interactive, challenging lessons and activities. I am looking forward to spending another year collaborating with Instructional Technology Resource Teacher Andy Jones (one of last year’s Golden Apple winners!) on new ways to bring technology and STEAM projects into Johnson’s classrooms. Keep your eyes and ears open for big initiatives involving computer programming, coding, and the infamous Hour of Code this year!

Kindergarten and first grade will continue checking out books that they choose for themselves twice a week, while older students will have the opportunity to fall in love with two new books everyday! I am hoping to top last year’s circulation numbers, which ended at nearly 18,000 books checked out over the course of the school year. The more we read, the better readers we become!

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This week, students have been getting to know the library – many for the first time. Older students have a hand in their library experience by naming their classes and creating their library rules, as well as getting to know their teammates. Younger students are learning about the special ways that we use our hands and feet in the library space, singing roll-call songs, and sharing stories about heading to school for the first time. Everyone has had lots of comments and questions about the library – “What’s this new display? What do I have to do to earn that privilege? Is that a new table?!”

I’m proud to say that there have been no tears in this room this week – and that includes the class of three year old preschoolers, who came to the library at 9:30 AM on their first day of school, ever! For many children, libraries can be overwhelming and scary places. Children that have a lack of experience with books don’t know how to unlock the magic inside; others have written libraries off after underwhelming or nervewracking experiences. One of the most challenging and rewarding parts of my job is taking the misconceptions about libraries that come through my door and turning them totally upside down. Students turn to me all the time and say, with disbelieving grins on their faces, “I thought libraries were supposed to be quiet?” Not this library, my friends. It’s impossible to be quiet when you’ve got passion this big and dreams this loud.

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I’m thrilled to be spending another year as the School Library Media Specialist and Technology Contact at Johnson Elementary School. I’m looking forward to sharing our experiences with you through photos, text, and samples of student work. Check back for content each week and watch carefully – you might just see a name or face that you recognize!

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If you ever need to contact me, I am reachable by both phone (434-245-2417, ext 2854) and email (messhas1@charlottesvilleschools.org). Due to my busy and ever-changing schedule, email is the easiest way for me to communicate. I also invite you to stop by before or after school hours with questions, comments, or just to chat.

Happy new school year! I hope to see you all soon!

Miss Messham

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