Dear Representative Coleman:
I would like to respectfully request that you include media specialists in the proposed HB 157 legislation that would allow certain groups of educators to return to full time employment and collect full retirement benefits under certain conditions.
Quite frankly, I am shocked we would be excluded from this legislation. Information literacy is no longer an “optional” aspect of a child’s education; it is imperative that today’s students acquire and hone these skills in order to be prepared for post-secondary education and today’s workforce. More importantly, one must have information literacy in order to effectively participate in our democratic society.
What do media specialists do? I assure you we do more than “check out books”! I arrive before most teachers do, and I am usually one of the last to leave. I do not get a planning period or a fixed lunch; most days I am lucky to eat while I work at my computer at the circulation desk or between classes that we are teaching. Whether I am teaching a group of ninth graders how to access information through a research database, helping an individual child master a technology skill, or collaborating with our teachers to develop lessons that we will deliver together to our students, I *TEACH* all day long, every day. In fact, I was voted “Teacher of the Month” in September of 2006 at my school and was a finalist for Teacher of the Year this year. I tied for 2nd place for the 2006 Golden Apple Teacher Award in my school, an award voted on by teachers. Many media specialists in our state have been recognized as “Teacher of the Year” in their schools and their districts!
This legislation implies that we are not “worthy” of the same benefits as classroom teachers. I can assure you that I work just as hard, if not harder, as a high school media specialist than I did as a classroom secondary English teacher (and that was pretty darn hard!). We as media specialists teach just as classroom teachers do and work with many learners day in and day out in our libraries. I might also add that you have to have at least a master’s degree to even *BE* a media specialist—this is not a requirement for classroom teachers! In fact, I have a M.Ed. and Ed.S. that I earned in person from the University of Georgia, the only School Library Media program in Georgia to earn AASL accreditation.
Qualified and talented media specialists are more important than ever in this age where information literacy is a requirement, not an option! We are at the heart of learning in Georgia’s schools. There are numerous research studies that show media specialists and effective school library media programs are correlated to increased student achievement. Here are some resources that have just a sampling of the evidence of how we impact achievement:
I believe my fellow faculty and administration would attest to how vital I am to my school as the media specialist. If you want to see what I do, I invite you to visit:
- The website I maintain for our media program: http://webtech.cherokee.k12.ga.us/creekview-hs/mediacenter
- Our library blog: http://theunquietlibrary.wordpress.com
- My Media 21 blog at http://buffyhamiltonmedia21.wordpress.com —our district provides specialized technology training for us just as they do classroom teachers in Teach 21. In fact, I am actually an instructor of technology classes for classroom teachers in our district!
I will only be 51 when I am eligible to retire—this legislation would be an incentive for me to extend my career as a K-12 educator and would enable me to afford to work in a rural district where qualified school library media specialists are always in demand.
I am a leader, a shaker, and a mover in my school who is passionate about teaching and learning as a media specialist. We as media specialists are always on the leading edge of new innovations in education and teaching strategies. I urge you to please include school library media specialists in this legislation so that children in Georgia can not only have access to highly qualified classroom teachers who may come out of retirement, but also to highly qualified school library media specialists as well.
Thank you for listening to my concerns and considering my request.
Buffy J. Hamilton, Ed.S.
Creekview High School
1550 Owens Store Road
Canton, GA 30115
770-720-7600, x. 253