Fund/Reinstate Stamford Public Schools Library Paraeducators
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My name is Mary George. I am SHS Head of Media, Media Content Leader, and most importantly, a Library Media Specialist for Stamford High School’s students and staff.
I am here to ask you to support Mr. Kim and all of the SPS students and staff to reinstate the Media Paraeducators if any money comes in from the state.
I am here to address my concern regarding the superintendent’s decision to eliminate the Media Paraeducators’ positions. I understand that the district is under pressure to cut the budget, but eliminating media paraeducators is going to open a huge gap for students and the teachers. With this cut, students will have less access to books, media, research, technology, etc. Many teachers use the facility as a hub of learning for special projects and to show students how to research.
The research is persuasive and endless, emphasizing the importance of library staffing (not just for security) but the direct correlation to increased student achievement in writing and reading scores. Some studies even relate to students’ time spent in libraries, as a deterrent to crime as their literacy rate increases.
Librarians are instructional partners who collaborate, teach, manage programs, and help with individual inquiries from students as well as staff. The library in many schools is the central hub from which students’ satisfy their curiosity, become aware of a myriad of different studies, peruse and hold books in their hands of varying areas, read magazines, newspapers, familiarize themselves with computers, and investigate possible careers.
We librarians teach. We are state certified teachers who often teach classes inside and outside the library. Who then will answer questions and service those who have been sent by teachers to further their understanding or pick up a resource needed for the classroom if the librarian is not accessible? We need to reinstate the Media Paras as soon as possible or else the teaching relevant to some many varied interests and demands from this centered mecca of information will, of necessity, have to be forsaken. Students will not have what they need to prepare themselves for higher education and the workplace.
We collaborate with every subject area. We integrate technology into the curriculum areas. We, as librarians keep growing as educators We have taken graduate level classes in how to do this more effectively; we are active participants in educational advancements and sometimes hosts of planned professional development for the district for which we have been trained by our own directors, funded in the past to deliver very strong and successful library programs. We have surely given a great ROI when we have statistics at Stamford high school that show in one academic year, over 200 collaboratively planned lessons that have occurred between librarians and teachers as well as approximately 1000 additional classes, sometimes simultaneously periods that come to the media center to use resources, and over 53,000 students who have come on passes to Stamford high school’s media centers in a given school year before school, during lunch, on their study hall, after school, or on a pass from a teacher).
Why are students coming to the media center? Well, they come to learn. They come to use scholarly research databases and to check out books for their required independent reading every quarter which is a part of their English curriculum. They come to use research databases to complete assignments on controversial issues. They come to use the 3D printer! Students come to the library for social learning as well. The Library Learning commons model allows students to learn independently and innovatively. They can type a poem on an “old-fashioned typewriter”, they can color, they can use Chromebooks, laptops, headphones. They can print their homework. Those must be some reasons why the students are waiting for me to open the door at 6:45 am and making me wait for them to gather their stuff at 3:15 when it is time for us to close the doors. There are easily over 100 students every morning who want their first stop of the day to be the library.
At one High school, the LMS coordinates and mentors Capstone projects for approx 200 seniors as a graduation requirement.
How wonderful and proud we are of our children who want to go to the library! What a great job Stamford has done with its library programs. This budget cut is not realistic. We can not have our children suffer who clearly want to learn when there are visible results and statistics to prove how utilized the libraries and every library staff member is. How can we regress when we have made great strides?
Please reinstate all library media paras immediately so our staff and students can have the services they need in order to prepare themselves for a future where evaluating sources and being literate is essential. Every student deserves to feel that his questions matter and that every effort is made to enhance his desire for knowledge. Thank you.
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