MEET THE CANDIDATES

By Robert McConnell and Vickie Saltzer, PSLA Operations Co-Chairs

The PSLA Operations Committee would like to introduce you to the candidates who have agreed to serve on the PSLA Board of Directors.  The treasurer and directors will serve for a two-year term while the vice president will serve a four-year term.   Serving on the Board of Directors means these individuals will be responsible for assisting the president in developing policies and procedures for the organization in all matters of state and national issues dealing with the school library profession.

Your vote is crucial for maintaining a strong, viable organization.  Elections will be held from March 13, 2018 to April 3, 2018.  An email will be sent to all active PSLA members indicating when the election begins as well as directions for voting on the new PSLA website.  Complete biographical information will be included in the online ballot as well as the PSLA website.  As an active member of PSLA, you will be asked to vote for a vice president, treasurer and two directors.  The following document will give you the opportunity to learn more about the candidates including their backgrounds and their vision for PSLA.  Each candidate addressed the following questions:

  1. PRIORITY GOALS FOR PSLA:   What goals do you think should have top priority for PSLA in 2018-2020?  Please provide your rationale.
  2. LEADERSHIP:  Briefly describe your leadership strengths and include examples if possible.
  3. 2025:  What do you see as the role of the school librarian in 2025?

NAME: Robin Burns

CANDIDATE FOR:  Vice-President, President Elect, President and Past President

SCHOOL DISTRICT: Salisbury Township School District

SCHOOL: Salisbury High School

TITLE/POSITION: Library Media Teacher

EDUCATION: 

        EXPERIENCE IN PSLA:  

        PRIORITY GOALS FOR PSLA: What goals do you think should have top priority for PSLA in 2018-2022?  Please provide your rationale.

I believe that school librarians are not only vital to the continued educational growth of learners but are necessary for a thriving community.  The communities that embrace and understand the importance and role of a school librarian have quantitative and qualitative results.  Providing members of PSLA with professional development opportunities both face-to-face and on-line thru a blended experience is essential to grow in our field.  Increased communication and connectivity with other librarians would be a priority goal.  Secondly, PSLA would further utilize the newly established Key Communicators Network to extend the reach of the association to all areas statewide on a regional level.  This would allow for the continued growth and leadership at the local level.  Lastly, PSLA must continue to network with other statewide organizations and groups, educators, administrators, policy makers, and community members to educate and share the roles and responsibilities of school librarians.  Advocacy for certified school librarians is paramount to retaining positions in districts and working to reinstate positions in buildings without a certified school librarian.  The new state initiatives such as the teacher effectiveness model, Student Learning Objectives for teachers, and Pennsylvania core have increased our visibility as a stakeholder.  It is with this increased visibility that I would promote the role of school librarians at the national, state, and local level as a goal for the 2018-2022 term of office.

        LEADERSHIP:  Briefly describe your leadership strengths and include examples if possible.

Leadership comes in many different styles and formats all of which come with their unique challenges and advantages.  As a leader in my library, building, district, and beyond I believe that my ability to listen is my greatest strength.  The leadership style I prefer is to create a team approach where all stakeholders have a role and I in turn listen to their input in making decisions.  The past three years I have served on the PSLA Board of Directors I have learned much can be accomplished with collaboration and a common goal.  The mission of our association is aimed at directly impacting and supporting all learners and educators in the commonwealth, “generates conversations and connections to transform teaching and learning”.  It is with this mission I lead in my building, district, community and beyond. Recently, I used this approach when working with the local CLIU21 Librarians’ Consortium to plan upcoming professional development days.  In the role as co director I wanted to make sure all members had the opportunity to recommend and request presentations, speakers, and topics to shape the agenda for future meetings.

2025: What do you see the role of the school librarian in 2025?

School librarians are leaders, information specialists, instructional partners, program administrators, technology facilitators, and most importantly teachers.   

  1. School librarians as leaders research the best practices, attend building meetings, create, develop, and present professional development for their buildings.
  2. School librarians as information specialists integrate digital literacy, media literacy, and digital citizenship into all areas of curriculum.
  3. School librarians as instructional partners work with other educators to plan, deliver, and assess student learning.
  4. School librarians as program administrators oversee school library budgets, purchasing, organization, and the staffing of the library.
  5. School librarians as technology facilitators promote and enable access to digital resources, assist with technology skills for educators and learners, and maintain a digital hub of information.
  6. School librarians as teachers instruct students inside and outside of the library.  

The school librarian in 2025 will continue to provide the above described unique services specific to the role of a school librarian.  The essential piece of what will lead the role into 2025 is that school librarians begin with the word, yes.  Yes, I can help and assist in any capacity as needed to benefit the building, district, learners, and fellow educators.  School librarians will continue to be the “jack’s” and “jill’s” of all trades while also serving as the primary promoters of recreational and informational reading in the school.  The school librarian has and will continue to be the advocate for intellectual freedom and champion for equitable access to information for all learners.

        EXPERIENCE IN OTHER ORGANIZATIONS:  What leadership roles do you have in these organizations?  

NAME: Shannon Kelley Resh

CANDIDATE FOR: Treasurer

SCHOOL DISTRICT: South Western School District 

SCHOOL: Park Hills Elementary School 

TITLE/POSITION: Elementary School Librarian

EDUCATION:  

(since renamed McDaniel College)

 

EXPERIENCE IN PSLA:   

2017, and will be presenting in 2018

 

PRIORITY GOALS FOR PSLA:   What goals do you think should have top priority for PSLA in 2018-2020?  Please provide your rationale.

Relationships and partnerships.  In this uncertain time in the field of education and fiscal strain, relationships and partnerships are more important than ever.  Who can the school librarian partner with to share the advocacy?  Who needs to learn the language of the library world to promote its’ significance to learning?  Shannon’s answer would be: Who shouldn’t?  Creating a shared language with administrators, school board members, community members, parents and extended families who care about children, public libraries, school libraries and more may allow for a greater understanding that today’s library is not the library of the 20th century in which we were all fundamentally schooled.  Libraries now play a vital role in the education of young people and through positive relationships and partnerships, we can educate all stakeholders in the significance of a quality school library, including the school librarian and staff.

 

        LEADERSHIP:  Briefly describe your leadership strengths and include examples if possible.

Effective leaders wear many hats, and the characteristics of a leader worth his or her salt are quite varied. A leader must have a natural ability to work with people - all people… including people who pose unique challenges. An effective leader is a "real" person with a comfortable approachability. One of the greatest compliments a leader can receive is that they make the people around them feel at ease. An effective leader has the ability to empower others to not only feel confident in their abilities, but also inspire them to do more. True leaders possess an honesty in character that yields respect and there is a certain honor to uphold in a position of leadership which goes hand in hand with trustworthiness. Shannon has been honored to have been in positions of leadership throughout her professional career.

 

Shannon is an elementary school librarian serving over 530 students in grades K-5 at Park Hills Elementary School in Hanover, Pennsylvania (South Western School District.)  As the “lone wolf” within the building, ways to show leadership can come through programming.  Shannon leads several key programs promoting literacy in her building, including:

 

When there are limited constraints on budget, leadership can be shown through seeking alternate funding sources. Over the years, Shannon has been able to secure over $10,000 in additional funding for building the collection in her school:

 

In addition to her role as the teacher-librarian on a fixed schedule and managing the daily function of the building library, Shannon serves on many committees within her school district at-large in order to give a voice to the library program and its’ vital role within the school learning community:

 

2025:  What do you see as the role of the school librarian in 2025?  

The future of school libraries and the role of the school librarian is quite simply: personalized learning. It is “our” time, and an exciting one for librarianship! As education in the 21st century evolves into a more customized learning environment, the full training of the school librarian can finally be realized. The physical footprint of the library is evolving in addition to the resources available for customizing learning. Collaborative spaces empower students in their creativity and pursuit of knowledge. Building relationships within the walls of the school and out increase human resources and a cultural literacy that adds to a better-rounded member of the learning community. Visualize the physical walls of the space called library as transparent and non-restrictive. That’s the future of the library. Visualize the librarian as the leading resource in connecting all the strings in the interconnected web of information.  That’s the future of the librarian.

 

EXPERIENCE IN OTHER ORGANIZATIONS:  What leadership roles do you

have in these organizations?  (Please use the same format as your experience in

PSLA,)

NAME:  Maggie Bokelman

CANDIDATE FOR:  PSLA Director

SCHOOL DISTRICT: Cumberland Valley

SCHOOL: Eagle View Middle School

TITLE/POSITION: Librarian

EDUCATION: 

        EXPERIENCE IN PSLA:  

 

        PRIORITY GOALS FOR PSLA:   What goals do you think should have top priority for PSLA in 2018-2020?  Please provide your rationale.

Advocacy must continue to be a high priority—indeed, our top priority. PSLA does a great job building partnerships and working with legislators, and that should continue.  It is always a struggle for librarians to make the valuable work that we do, which is often behind-the-scenes, more visible.  Data and research that validate the importance of libraries and librarians is important, but I believe it is even more important to keep working to find ways to be seen and heard. The two additional priorities I have listed below both offer opportunities for both PSLA and individual librarians to do just that.

Media literacy is having a moment right now with all the valid concerns about fake news as well as the current administration’s not-so-valid attacks on the media.  I believe PSLA should prioritize media literacy issues, as it is becoming eminently clear that our students desperately need tools to evaluate the news (which most people now receive via social media rather than newspapers or television).  The spotlight on media literacy has put librarians in the spotlight as well and provides an excellent argument for keeping or expanding a library program.

I would also like to see PSLA focus more on diversity, equity, and inclusion.  This could take on a variety of forms. I’d like to work on making our membership more diverse, recognizing that this will likely be a very slow, long-term process that might need to include encouraging a more diverse cohort of students to consider librarianship as a career path.  Another focus would be on better serving the increasingly diverse populations of students we have. Offering literature and resources that reflect the diverse world we live in is one important part of this equation.  Many schools and districts are starting to address various issues surrounding diversity and social justice, and librarians can and should take a leadership role in these processes.

        LEADERSHIP:  Briefly describe your leadership strengths and include examples if possible.

        One of my primary strengths as a leader is my ability to be diplomatic, and to get along well with many different types of personalities (and help others do the same).  Last spring, as part of my work in my district’s Diversity and Respect committee, I led a 6-week book discussion on a title dealing with white privilege. Some of our conversations were difficult and uncomfortable. One of the members of the group told me privately that she appreciated my ability to diffuse some potentially volatile situations without shutting anyone down and ensuring all participants felt heard.

        In general, I am a “big picture” person, and have found I team up well with people who are good with details.  I believe it is important to have people working together who have a variety of strengths, and to find and make the best use of everyone’s talents.  At the same time, it can be a rewarding experience to try something new … sometimes, we discover talents we never knew we had that way!

        2025:  What do you see as the role of the school librarian in 2025?

        As issues concerning digital, media, visual, and information literacy continue to become increasingly important in our society, and old notions about teachers as the purveyors of knowledge give way to new ideas about the importance and possibilities for student agency, I believe the role of the librarian will be more vital than ever. Librarians are perfectly positioned to be leaders in a landscape where learning is all about navigating a world overflowing with information (and misinformation), where knowing how to ask the right questions is far more important than having the answers. As more and more schools go one-to-one, librarians will be less tied to a physical library, and will be increasingly called on to curate resources for students and teachers to be made available through learning management systems.  

        EXPERIENCE IN OTHER ORGANIZATIONS:

        Organization Memberships

Conference Presentations

        District/School Leadership:

District Professional Development

The following are some of the after school and summer professional development courses I have offered for district staff:

Other

NAME: Maryalice Bond

CANDIDATE FOR: PSLA Director

SCHOOL DISTRICT: South Middleton School District

SCHOOL: Boiling Springs High School

TITLE/POSITION: Certified School Librarian 

EDUCATION: 

   

        EXPERIENCE IN PSLA:  

        PRIORITY GOALS FOR PSLA:   What goals do you think should have top priority for PSLA in 2018-2020?  Please provide your rationale.

PSLA’s top priority must be working to help ensure certified school librarians are essential in each school. With many librarians serving multiple buildings, lacking support staff, and experiencing an increase in other responsibilities, it is more important than ever to promote the role of the school librarian. Continuing to advocate for our profession as a unified organization will support school librarians in areas where districts cut positions and where budgets are tight. School librarians are essential teaching professionals and continuing to fight for this recognition will help retain certified school library positions.

        LEADERSHIP:  Briefly describe your leadership strengths and include examples if possible.

Reliable: Serving as a leader in my library, building, and district, my best leadership quality is reliability. Students and teachers rely on my background as an English teacher when looking for and citing credible research. Numerous teachers rely on me to teach their classes and help students locate relevant research. Everyone that meets me knows I am a reliable resource for recommending a great young adult novel because I read a variety of books that are in my library. In my school, I serve on various committees because the administration values on my input. Leading our school’s grant-writing team for the CAIU’s regional blended learning grant and serving on the Student Assistance Program, the Building Improvement Committee, and chairing the Powerful Learning Practices team are several examples of roles I have held. Within my school district, I serve as the editor for our online newsletter as well as our annual calendar. I also serve as the district webmaster and manage the district’s social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. Because I am dependable, many individuals in my school and district rely on me.

        2025:  What do you see as the role of the school librarian in 2025?

Regardless of the look of the library, school librarians will remain adaptable in 2025. School librarians are key stakeholders in determining our role and function. We are no longer the “keepers of information.” Instead, we support all learners and educators in our building(s) as they progress through changes, including learning new technologies. Librarians are in a unique position to interact with students across content areas as they grow while they are in our building(s). To remain relevant, school librarians must continue to learn and evolve because our role is ever changing.

        EXPERIENCE IN OTHER ORGANIZATIONS:  What leadership roles do you have in these organizations?  (Please use the same format as your experience in PSLA,)

NAME: Aimee Lin Emerson

CANDIDATE FOR:  PSLA Director

SCHOOL DISTRICT: Bradford Area School District

SCHOOL: Floyd C. Fretz Middle School

TITLE/POSITION: Librarian

EDUCATION: 

   

        EXPERIENCE IN PSLA:  

        PRIORITY GOALS FOR PSLA:   What goals do you think should have top priority for PSLA in 2018-2020?  Please provide your rationale.

Living in a small, rural town in northern Pennsylvania, I have seen, heard, and experienced first-hand the declining importance of the school librarian.  Although technology abounds, there is little emphasis on digital citizenship, on information literacy, and on equitable access.  I feel one immediate focus should be to target similar small-town school library programs that have limited resources or communication with PSLA and provide them with targeted, professional development opportunities.  The Regional Leadership Academy is implementing a communication network currently; however, more attention needs to be directed to these rural schools, so they can understand that PSLA is relevant to them.  Many of the librarians in my area are not PSLA members, because they cannot see the impact that the organization has on them. One goal should be to change this mindset.

Another goal should focus on the continued advocacy of school library programs. With the new AASL standards, school library programs need to communicate their vital importance to their schools and communities.  Library programs are integral in creating an entire community of learners, regardless of economic status or hometown location, by connecting schools to homes through equitable access to information and technology.  Libraries need to provide learning opportunities that extend beyond the school walls and the school days.  PSLA should prioritize the dissemination of these new standards to all school librarians and continue to model advocacy plans.  

        LEADERSHIP:  Briefly describe your leadership strengths and include examples if possible.

My leadership skills are stronger in collaborative, team efforts.  Perhaps it is because I have always played team sports, i.e. soccer, basketball, and softball, but I tend to display my leadership strengths when others are present and working hard toward the same goal.  I feel that in a group setting, ideas can be cultivated and refined through discussion and action.  As an instructional coach and now as a librarian, I have been asked to conduct professional development opportunities, been selected for various school committees, and have conducted action research projects with a few of my peers.  For each situation, I have lead with a goal in mind, been thorough in my planning and preparation, and have utilized the others’ strengths to find successful outcomes.

        2025:  What do you see as the role of the school librarian in 2025?

Although times will be different in 2025, there will still be constants that are even present today in which a school librarian plays a crucial role.  As the social and educational environments change, the school librarian will still be the central key to unlock inquiry, a love of reading and learning, and the skills needed to traverse the unpredictable digital landscape. The school librarian will be the leader to guide the educators and students through these variables by conducting meaningful professional development, advocating for equitable resources, and by creating meaningful, collaborative relationships in which learning takes priority.

        EXPERIENCE IN OTHER ORGANIZATIONS:  What leadership roles do you have in these organizations?  

NAME: Melissa Josef

CANDIDATE FOR:  PSLA Director

SCHOOL DISTRICT: Garnet Valley

SCHOOL: Garnet Valley High School

TITLE/POSITION: Library Media Specialist

EDUCATION: Master of Library Science, University of Pittsburgh   

        EXPERIENCE IN PSLA:  

        PRIORITY GOALS FOR PSLA:   

  1. Advocacy: Our voice must be loud and clear, not just with lawmakers, but with superintendents, principals, parent teacher groups, school boards, and others at the local level who make financial decisions for districts. We need to push the school library curriculum in a more effective manner to decision makers, not just lawmakers, to make all more aware of our goals. School districts are making cuts to libraries without a full understanding the value. We need to help them understand what they are missing.
  2. Updating Technology: Conference registration technology has become outdated as well as some parts of the PSLA website. It is good the PSLA board has a new website and conference registration procedure to better facilitate member use.
  3. Professional Development: We need to look into expanding opportunities for providing PD to members through seminars, webinars, or other training options.
  4. Membership: By reaching out to school librarians who have let memberships lapse or who are not members, we can find out if they have any issues and encourage them to join.

        LEADERSHIP: While I am relatively new to scholastic librarianship, much of my career experiences have contributed to the leader I am today. I have travelled the world, taught ESL in Japan, worked in public affairs with a CEO that helped me learn the ins and outs of Washington (and intellectual property law), served on the boards of the Japan America Society of Delaware and Newark Day Nursery, volunteered at the Baltimore Aquarium as a diver for five years, been president of a Toastmaster public speaking club, been an active parent volunteer in my children's schools, and have numerous other activities that never appear on a teacher or librarian resume. I believe myself to be fair as I try my best to be balanced and listen, but I realize that ultimately a group can't move forward if it is stuck trying to make everyone happy all of the time. As in my previous career path, when I started library school in 2008, I immediately began to seek out the professional societies that would help me in this career. PSLA and ALA were the natural choices. I joined as a student and as I have grown to become more involved, I have the same yearning for continual growth for me and the organizations that can drive me as a leader.

        2025:  I believe the role of librarian will do what it has always done and evolve right along with the needs of those who we serve. We never have been about books, but about information and people. Our students, first and foremost, need to be graduating with an ability to ethically use and evaluate information regardless of format. That doesn't happen with the classroom teacher alone, it also takes the skills of competent librarians. It is that teaching part of our role that has made the difference in school library studies over the past two decades. Our teaching role, like all teaching roles, will continue to grow and shift with technology, but the essence is the same.

        EXPERIENCE IN OTHER ORGANIZATIONS:  

NAME: Ann Schmidt

CANDIDATE FOR:  PSLA Director for the 2018-2020 term

SCHOOL DISTRICT:  Conrad Weiser Area School District   

SCHOOL:  Conrad Weiser High School

TITLE/POSITION:  Library Media Specialist

EDUCATION:  Master of Library Science, Kutztown University

   

        EXPERIENCE IN PSLA:  

        PRIORITY GOALS FOR PSLA:   What goals do you think should have top priority for PSLA in 2018-2020?  Please provide your rationale.

        The top goals for PSLA should be, in no particular order, advocacy, growth, and professional learning opportunities.  Advocacy is and will continue to be an important piece that PSLA can provide at the local, state and national level.  The tools and information that we pass along can easily be shared with local administrators and decision makers.  That can be very effective and useful for teacher librarians.  We need to continue growing and cultivating our members.  There certainly is strength in unity and it provides continued diversity of mindsets.  Finally, I think PSLA plays a strategic role in in assisting the professional learning opportunities of members.  The annual conference is an amazing experience, but we need to grow that opportunity to be more consistent and pervasive throughout the year.  

        LEADERSHIP:  Briefly describe your leadership strengths and include examples if possible.

        My two best leadership strengths are that I can see the big picture/vision and I can bring people together to accomplish that big picture or vision.  I constantly play this role at my building, trying to connect professionals both inside and outside my organization.  The network we are connected to is an essential ingredient to helping move our school forward in an innovative manner.

        Examples of my leadership within PSLA include my role of Co-chair for the Communications Committee and my suggestions to PSLA leadership regarding member communication and Librarian of the Year award winner being nominated for Teacher of the Year in the PA-NSTOY/PDE program.  Examples within my school district are extensive.  I have brought many programs to our district or my school.  I was instrumental in creating Weiser Reads (a 20 minutes reading block every Wednesday), bring hybrid learning to the high school, moving our school library program from an antiquated one to a dynamic learning environment for all learners.  

        2025:  What do you see as the role of the school librarian in 2025?

        The role of the school librarian will continue to be instrumental as schools become vibrant learning centers where all learners are empowered to follow customized learning pathways.  The very nature of what we do is embedded into this ideal of what schools should look like!  We have the critical role to help students inquire, include, collaborate, curate, explore and engage.  This essential role has become even more imperative in this world of information overload.  So, I see this role taking on an even greater importance in the next seven years.

        EXPERIENCE IN OTHER ORGANIZATIONS:  What leadership roles do you have in these organizations?   

NAME: Mary Schwander

CANDIDATE FOR:  Director

SCHOOL DISTRICT: New Hope-Solebury

SCHOOL: New Hope-Solebury High School

TITLE/POSITION: Library Media Specialist

EDUCATION:        

        EXPERIENCE IN PSLA:  

        PRIORITY GOALS FOR PSLA:   What goals do you think should have top priority for PSLA in 2018-2020?  Please provide your rationale.

        Advocacy: Advocacy continues to be a very important issue for Pennsylvania school librarians and PSLA offers an integral support system for advocacy in many different formats. As we face budgetary cutbacks, it’s vital that legislators, administrators and the community are aware of the valuable service which we provide as information and media specialists. PSLA must continue to find the best ways to provide our members with tools and resources which help promote a school librarian’s value to all. In addition, I believe that PSLA must advocate for our own organization so that more Pennsylvania school librarians recognize the benefit of joining our association.

Professional Development: We cannot properly advocate for our valuable services if we do not continually grow and improve in our profession. It’s important that PSLA provide members with resources and opportunities so that we are teaching library and technology skills that are current and relevant. The Future Ready School initiative and the new AASL Standards are two important focus points for PSLA in the coming years.

        LEADERSHIP:  Briefly describe your leadership strengths and include examples if possible.

        I think that the best leaders are good listeners. Whether I’m having a face-to-face conversation with a fellow PSLA member or reading an online thread on a certain library topic, I value the thoughts and ideas of all school librarians. I am proud to be recognized as a leader in my school community as well as in the global network of school librarians and tech educators. Without a doubt, much of my leadership is a result of listening to and learning from many fabulous librarians and educators.

        2025:  What do you see as the role of the school librarian in 2025?

        I honestly see the role of the school librarian in 2025 much like that of today. Our role is, and will always be, to encourage lifelong learning by providing a wide variety of information sources and by instructing both students and faculty in effective information seeking strategies. What will change are the methods available to obtain, curate and share the information. Among a world of constant advancements in technology as well as set-backs such as the threat of losing net-neutrality, school librarians will always be vital for developing transliterate students.

        EXPERIENCE IN OTHER ORGANIZATIONS:  What leadership roles do you have in these organizations?  (Please use the same format as your experience in PSLA,)