It’s National School Library Month!
Every year, the American Association of School Librarians sets aside the month of April to celebrate the contributions of school librarians and the role of school libraries in students’ education. All month long, PCPS will be spotlighting members of our Library Media Services staff.
Today we meet Nikki Iatarola, media specialist at George Jenkins High School. Mrs. Iatarola has worked for PCPS for 14 years but became a media specialist four years ago to share her love of reading with students.
What do you like most about your job?
Where do I begin? I love so many aspects of this job, but my favorite thing by far is finding that breakthrough book for a reluctant reader. I strive to find books for our library that speak to our students, and when I can match a student who “hates reading” to a book they are excited to read and talk about, it’s a huge win.
What do you try most to instill in students and why?
I strive to instill confidence in my students as readers, writers, researchers, and as people in general. Working as a media specialist gives me a unique opportunity to do this, as I am able to discuss books with them for fun or for an assignment, or provide instruction with writing and research, and help them find success in several different ways.
Describe your day-to-day.
One of the things that makes my job so great is that no two days are the same! I have classes that visit to check out books. Classes will also come in for research lessons, career exploration, test prep, or writing instruction. I am always working to improve the library by weeding out old books, rearranging furniture, and making things more accessible to students. We are currently working to reorganize the books by genre to make items easier to find for students. I also have the opportunity to work as a mentor to new teachers at GJHS, so I often spend time meeting with them and visiting their classrooms.
Describe your library. What do you hope students feel when they come inside?
It is my hope that our library is warm and inviting to students. I like to have students’ work and art on display so they can see themselves in the room and feel as though it is truly theirs. I usually have music playing, and I love it when the space is noisy and filled with student discussion. I want to make sure that everyone who visits the library feels safe and comfortable, and I am always eager to chat with students and teachers.
What is the biggest contribution you think you make to your students’ lives?
More than anything, I hope that my students find positivity, encouragement and acceptance when they visit me in the library. My goal as an educator has always been to provide opportunities for students to be successful. Hopefully my work in the GJHS media center does just that.
What is your favorite book and why?
One of my favorites as a teacher is “Copper Sun” by Sharon Draper. Not only does it accurately teach students about the horrors of slavery, it also teaches the importance of strength, perseverance, relationships and growth. This is one of those books students have been heavily invested in reading and discussing, and I am always impressed and touched by their impressions and thoughts on the book.