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Donegal High School Library Hosts Rep. Hickernell

 

    

On December 14, Sara Frazier, librarian at Donegal High School (Mount Joy, PA), hosted a visit by Pennsylvania state Representative Dave Hickernell, a Republican serving parts of Lancaster and Dauphin counties who is also the Chair of the PA House Education Committee. Also attending were Cathi Fuhrman, PSLA Vice President, and Kevin Harley, PSLA’s communication strategist from Quantum Communications who helped to schedule the visit. Donegal’s Superintendent, Michael Lausch also visited with the Representative in the library. During the hour-long visit, Rep. Hickernell was most impressed with the technology in use in the library and how instruction is embedded in the school’s curriculum. He watched Sara teach a lesson on using Gale databases as part of a social studies unit. Sara reported that Rep. Hickernell seemed very impressed with what a school library offers to the school’s students in this small, middle-income, rural community which he represents.

The Donegal Library Program is well supported by its administrators. Each of its four schools has a full-time librarian with library assistants. In recent years, the high school library received a grant plus district money to refresh the look of the high school library to make a more inviting atmosphere for its teenagers. Sara, a “graduate” of the PSLA-University of Pittsburgh Sustaining Leaders Academy, is a strong school library advocate, maintains a nicely designed LibGuide website (http://libguides.donegalsd.org/dhslibrary), and is actively engaged in the instructional program at Donegal. Watch the short video “A Typical Day in the Library” on the library website.

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Update: October 14, 2017 Board Meeting

Please see the attached document for an update from the October 14, 2017, Board Meeting.

Update from the October 14, 2017 Board Meeting

Libraries: The Hub of the School

Libraries: The Hub of the School (PSEA Voice)

 College-level research assignments for AP classes, resources for terms papers, learning credible sources on the internet, access to laptops and iPads for students who don’t have their own.

That is a short list of the key roles libraries play for high school students.

The libraries of their grandparents – card catalogs, shelves of encyclopedias – are long gone in the digital age of the early 21st century. “Shhh’’ is another relic. Collaboration and socialization are fine.

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Update: May 20, 2017 Meeting

Please see the attached document for an update from the May 20, 2017, Board Meeting.

Update from the May 20, 2017 Meeting

Lower Dauphin Sits on One of the Largest Rainy Day Funds in the State, All While Eliminating Librarians

by Heather Lister

In an interview with ABC27 on May 17th, Lower Dauphin Director of Community Relations claimed, “You do the best with the resources you have before you go back to the taxpayers and ask for more money.” This statement was in response to a growing number of community members speaking out against reducing the number of certified librarians in the district, which is currently being proposed for the 17-18 school year.

The district is arguing that by eliminating the position of a middle school librarian, they will free up the funds to increase technology and make a more modern space. There are two issues I see with this. First, with this logic the district could eliminate math teachers if they invest in fancy calculators. Second, I had no indication that Lower Dauphin was under any sort of financial distress. So before making conclusions, I do what any good librarian does, I research.

As I began exploring the financial data to back up the district’s statement, I referenced several published documents from recent Board meetings. I learned that both State and Federal funding has increased, the employer rate for PSERS pension contributions is the lowest increase in 5 years, interest on investments increased 150%, contributions and donations from private sources is up 500%, and the district saw an increase in both property tax and earned income tax from the growth in the area. So why the need to cut positions? However, I understood that districts can’t rely on levels of federal and state funding so I continued searching. Just weeks ago, the Pennsylvania Department of Education released its updated financial reports for the 2015-16 school year.

One of the biggest takeaways from this report is that Pennsylvania school districts’ general fund balances now top $4.4 BILLION dollars and there seems to be a growing awareness of this issue. Naturally, I was curious what Lower Dauphin’s contribution was to this amass of money.

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Update: March 30, 2017 Meeting

Please see the attached document for an update from the March 30, 2017, Board Meeting.

Update from the March 30, 2017 Meeting

Learning to Read

by Jessica Kahn, Ph.D.

Over the past eight years, as a retired, reading education college professor, I have worked with Philadelphia public and charter schools to get books into the hands of children. I collect books from wealthy neighborhoods and books that children no longer want and take them to inner-city schools. In five of those schools, I have also created or re-created libraries, cataloging the books and arranging the library, in the hopes that someday a school librarian will be hired to run the library and teach students. I have literally cataloged thousands of books for these libraries.

One of these libraries is fully functional today in a charter school. It has a certified school librarian and an aide. In another school, a chronically understaffed public school, where I have set up a library collection, there is a crew of dedicated volunteers and middle school students who circulate 1400 books a month, to as many as four classes a day. Volunteers at this public school also read to children on a regular basis, using the library to meet with students and encourage reading.

I am currently organizing a library in another Philadelphia charter school where the principal assures me that a bilingual media specialist will be hired to oversee the library. I hope this happens. For my part, in addition to supplying an initial book collection, I will train parent volunteers and middle schoolers to help maintain the library.

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Conversation with our PA House Representative

After working as a public school librarian for 23 years, I did something for the FIRST time.  I lobbied! And it was a wonderful experience thanks to Deb Kachel and all the supporting material she made available.  As a librarian at North Penn High School, (Lansdale, PA) and a resident of Philadelphia, I am keenly aware of the lack of school librarians throughout the state of Pennsylvania. I wanted the legislator who served a part of our school district to support the co-sponsored house memo: One “Certified Librarian” Per Public School.

On Monday, March 6, Deb Kachel and I had an appointment with State Representative Todd Stephens, who represents the 151st Legislative District, which covers a part of North Penn’s schools.  Deb made the appointment to see Mr. Stephens at his Montgomeryville office after my school day.  But before we went, Deb and I talked on the phone and strategized what we would say.  There are two great documents on PSLA’s website that guided our planning. Talking Points “One Certified Librarian per Public School” Legislative Campaign and the Template for Preparing a Conversation with Your Legislator.

We wanted to keep our meeting short, just 10-15 minutes.  Our goal was to ask the representative for his support for the memo, by either signing on to the memo or supporting if it became a bill. We had three talking points about the need for a certified librarian in every public school:

  1. Importance of digital citizenship and cybersafety
  2. The Instructional role of the librarian
  3. Preparing students for college and career

While we explained our roles as librarians, Mr. Stephens had some questions, explained his point of view, and thanked us for coming to talk to him.  He was very genial and kind, as I’m sure most legislators are when talking to their constituents.  He was genuinely concerned about the students in his district. Our conversation lasted about 30 minutes.  Deb and I left feeling cautiously optimistic, and with a promise to follow up on any outstanding questions Mr. Stephens had.

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21st Century Librarians: Servant Leaders

Academic Reference and Instruction Librarian at Bloomsburg University Linda Neyer discusses how PSLA President Allison Burrell, President-Elect Jennifer Bates and Vice President Allison Mackley exemplify and embody the role of servant leaders in the PSLA organization and in their own school districts. As an academic librarian working with freshmen, Linda sees first-hand how the role and value of the school librarian influences a student’s research and literary skills in higher education.

Read more on how school librarians are leaders in many areas and are vital to their students’ success beyond high school.

Philadelphia School District Librarians: A Species Nearly Extinct?

The Philadelphia Inquirer examines the dwindling number of librarians in one of the nation’s largest school systems. The number of full-time, certified librarians in the Philadelphia School District is now in the single digits.

Read more on how shrunken Philadelphia school budgets are almost pushing librarians to the point of extinction.

Libraries Remain a Cornerstone of Schools: Rep. Thomas Murt

Published by The Intelligencer, PA State Representative Thomas Murt says a shortage of librarians and libraries in the School District of Philadelphia is negatively impacting students because “the library is the heart and soul of the learning process.” As an educator, a parent and a state representative, Rep. Murt has begun work on a bill that dedicates a portion of state budget funding for schools specifically for school libraries and library staff.

Read more on Rep. Murt’s belief that professional librarians are essential in utilizing what the shelves have to offer.

Update: January 14, 2017 Meeting

Please see the attached document for an update from the January 14, 2017, Board Meeting.

Update from the January 14, 2017 Meeting

Who Should Teach Our Kids the Difference Between Real and Fake News? Our Librarians

In a world where information is accessible with a click of a few buttons or the touch of a screen, Deb Kachel says emotional appeals and unsubstantiated claims sway popular opinions in our current post-truth era. Published by PennLive, Deb argues that, in order to be successful, students must be able to distinguish false claims, fraudulent sales pitches and dubious websites from trustworthy information and sources.

Read more on how librarians can lead students to trustworthy information.

Librarians Are Critical to Communities: John Kurelja, Ed. D.

When hired as the middle school principal in the Central Columbia School District, John Kurelja was introduced to one of the most influential educators he has ever met, a middle school librarian. In an op-ed published by The Standard-Journal, John recalls how Janice Dysart found a way not only to engage students with literature, but to embed their reading into their overall curriculum.

Read John’s story here.

Update: October 29, 2016 Board Meeting

Please see the attached document for an update from the October 29, 2016, Board Meeting.

Update from the October 29, 2016 Board Meeting

School Librarians have a Profound Impact on Students’ Futures

Op-ed: Lancaster Online

School librarians have a profound impact on students’ futures

As a school district library department supervisor, I would love to say that, after 17 years in this position, my district has the perfect school library program. The reality is that our idea of perfection evolves. The needs of our students are constantly changing. So, too, our district’s mission and vision must change to meet the future-ready needs of our students...

Cathi Fuhrman, Ed.D., is library department supervisor for the Hempfield School District. This article was originally presented at a hearing before the state House Education Committee.

School Librarians Even More Important

Allentown Morning Call: School librarians are even more important in a digital world. (Nov. 7, 2016)

Even in the iPhone Age, School Librarians are a Vital Link to Learning

Op-Ed: PennLive

Even in the iPhone age, school librarians are a vital link to learning

As both the president of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) and the K-12 librarian of a rural PA school district, I know how absolutely vital school librarians are to our students' futures...

Allison Burrell is president of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association and a K-12 librarian in the Southern Columbia Area School District. This op-Ed was originally presented as testimony before the House Education Committee.

Update: July 14, 2016 Board Meeting

Please see the attached document for an update from the July 14, 2016, Board Meeting.

Update from the July 14, 2016 Board Meeting

Update: May 12, 2016 Board Meeting

Please see the attached document for an update from the May 12, 2016, Board Meeting.

Update from the May 12, 2016 Board Meeting