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 Sara Gossman, a media specialist at Lake Shipp Elementary. She joined PCPS as a teacher in 2015 and has served as a media specialist since 2017.
Why did you become a school librarian?
I became a school librarian because I have a lifelong love of reading and books, and as a child, the library was my favorite place to be at school. Regardless of what was going on in my life at that moment, the library would always be there, and I could escape in a book. I wanted to create that same experience in the library for the students at my school, especially because, being at a Title I school, some of my students don’t have the ability to visit the public library with their families due to transportation or time issues.
What do you like most about your job?
I love coordinating and managing the Accelerated Reader program at my school, as well as conducting read-alouds and standards-based reviews during my library lessons.
What do you try most to instill in students, and why?
I attempt to instill a love of reading within my students. I have a few struggling readers who may not love to read, but I help them to respect reading and understand its importance in day-to-day life.
Describe your average day.
Every morning when I get to school, I prepare the school news show for the day and send the link out to teachers (then I start work on next day’s show). During my open blocks of time when I don’t have classes I have open checkout, meaning any student from any class can come check out books. I typically shelve books, prepare materials and lessons, gather resources for teachers, and change displays during this open checkout time. I also have scheduled classes, in which I teach a mini standards-based ELA lesson based on what skill each grade level is working on that week. I have a mixture of open checkout and classes all day long. The only time I’m not in the library is during my daily hour of lunch duty in the cafeteria.
Describe the experience of visiting your library.
I create a safe, laid-back environment for students by building rapport with them. I know every student’s name at my school and I try to remember their tastes in books. If I get something new that I know a particular student would like, I will set it aside for them. If they ask for a particular book that I don’t have, I will help them put it on hold at the public library or ask to borrow it from another school.
What is your favorite book, and why?
My absolute favorite book is “Holes” by Louis Sachar. My fifth-grade teacher at Scott Lake Elementary first read the book to my class, and I was fascinated by it. I’ve re-read it at least a dozen times over my life. I like the initial mystery and historical fiction aspect of the story.
What is the biggest contribution you think you make to your students lives?
I believe that I impact students by giving them equitable access to literature, and providing a safe space for them to learn more about themselves (and the world) through what they read.