On Saturday, Sept. 17, school librarians and library department coordinators from around the state of Massachusetts gathered at Sharon High School for “Connecting ESSA to School Libraries,” hosted by the Massachusetts School Library Association. Dr. John Marcus, Superintendent of Administration and Information Services for the Sharon Public Schools, welcomed guests and helped set the stage for a successful workshop. Susan Ballard, AASL Past President, provided welcoming remarks followed by an articulate review of key messages. Members of MSLA’s leadership team, including Kathy Lowe, Executive Director of MSLA; Anita Cellucci, MSLA President; and Carrie Tucker; MSLA President Elect, steered the course of the day, along with Ballard, into focused, meaningful activity and conversation.
Ballard initiated discussion around the importance of identifying stakeholders and developing a coalition plan, as well as connecting our message to stakeholders. We spent time in small groups, polishing elevator speeches and working toward connecting ESSA to our best practices. Ample time was given throughout the day for small group conversation, processing, and development of ideas and strategies.
Information included statistics on how ESSA funding will impact Massachusetts, the ESSA Federal Legislation Timeline, ESSA state timing, rules and implementation, background, library provisions and next steps for Title I, Title II, Title III and Title IV funding.
Anita Cellucci, Library Teacher at Westborough High School in Westborough, MA, and MSLA President, said, “The AASL ESSA workshop has given me powerful, concise language for advocacy, but also the information to communicate with the key stakeholders in my district and across the state of Massachusetts. This was a unique opportunity to improve equitable and academic outcomes for all students.”
Diane Smith, Library Director at Bishop Fenwick High School in Peabody, MA, said, “I’ve been in the business of libraries since the early 90’s . Knowing how things happen, ESSA is the most exciting opportunity for school librarians since Andrew Carnegie. The role of literacy development in a democratic country is critical. ESSA, as it applies to school libraries, supports the development of a responsible voter.
“Libraries cannot afford to work between the lines anymore. ESSA supports libraries in their efforts to find new purpose in the Information Age. ESSA provides an opportunity for school libraries to take their place as the glue that binds the curriculum together.”
Chris Swerling, Coordinator for Libraries at Newton Public Schools in Newton, MA, and Fran Zilonis, Director of School Libraries at Wellesley Public Schools in Wellesley, MA, added, “Unlike No Child Left Behind, ESSA ties directly to the classroom focusing on instruction, literacy and digital skills. Our school libraries are a classroom for everyone in the school. We are excited to be part of AASL as school librarians in Massachusetts embrace this opportunity. It positions school librarians to be leaders in their districts, towns and in the state and the AASL ESSA workshop not only prepared us – it energized us!”
The workshop was unquestionably time well spent. In the words of Susan Ballard, “All of the attendees at the MSLA workshop were engaged and enthusiastic. I know that they will make great things happen!”
Author: Cathy Collins
Ms. Collins has worked as a Media Specialist/Librarian for 14 years. She is currently a library media specialist at Sharon High School, where she has worked for the past four years. She began her career as a reporter who covered business, arts and education-related issues. While interviewing the headmaster at a private school, she realized that she wanted to combine her love of research and writing with a career in education. At that point, she returned to school for a Masters in Library Science and further graduate studies in educational leadership. Ms. Collins has published her writing in various journals including “Library Media Connection,” “NEA Today,” education-related blogs and websites including AASL’s “Knowledge Quest.” She is a 2012 Reynolds High School Journalism Institute Fellow and project consultant for the E-Book, “Searchlights and Sunglasses: Journalism in the Digital Age.” She received a “Teachers for Global Classrooms” fellowship from the U.S. State Dept. in 2014 and is the recipient of AASL’s Intellectual Freedom Award (2014) as well as a “Super Librarian” award bestowed by MSLA (Massachusetts School Library Association). She is a Massachusetts Library System Executive Board Member and has served on the MassCUE Board as PD Chair since 2013 along with the NEISTE Board. She earned National Board Certification as a Library/Media Teacher in 2009. In her spare time, she enjoys nature walks, reading, travel and yoga.