The days when school libraries were hushed environments where students sat hunched over musty books are long gone, as demonstrated by Bradwell Institute’s award-winning media center during an open house last Friday.
Bradwell students have colorful and comfortable coffeehouse-style couches and chairs in which to read and study, and numerous iPad stations are set up around the center. Media specialists are on hand to assist students in their research and to teach them responsible use of social media, as well as encourage healthy reading habits. The media center also serves as an extension of the classroom with a smart board, space for group learning and a 3-D printer for projects and presentations.
Bradwell’s media program was named one of Georgia’s exemplary media programs for 2013. Schools that receive the recognition are required to host an open house for media specialists and school administrators from across the state. Bradwell Institute’s media center open house also was open to local community leaders and parents.
“Only one program per each level of education — elementary, middle and high school — is picked for this honor each year by the Georgia Library Media Association and the Georgia Library Association,” Assistant Superintendent for Operations John Lyles said. “The selection for this honor is based on a detailed rubric, which addresses areas such as student achievement, instruction, technology, staffing, facilities, access, resources, administrative support and staff development.”
Lyles said Midway Middle School was selected as an exemplary media program three years ago.
“It’s a big honor,” media specialist Melissa McCallar said. McCallar and her colleague, media specialist Nikki Lukkarinen, facilitated the open house. McCallar said the event gave Bradwell a platform to spotlight the media program’s strengths and to network with representatives from other school-library media programs.
McCallar said she and Lukkarinen also presented a session about Bradwell’s successful media-center program at the Georgia Educational Technology Conference last November.
The media specialists spoke with their counterparts from other school systems Friday, offered visitors tours of the center and displayed statistics of student visits, circulation and media lessons from 2012-14.
In 2012, 11,584 students visited the media center. In 2013, that number increased to 14,847 and this year there’s been 24,292 student visits to Bradwell’s media center.
Circulations figures also have risen consistently over the past two years. In 2012, circulation was at 16,748; in 2013 it was 25,841, and this year it was 28,985.
McCallar and Lukkarinen conducted 105 media lessons in 2012 and 119 media lessons last year. This year, the pair so far has given 151 media lessons.
McCallar said the media center has paid for improvements with grant money. The media center recently received a $1,918 Bright Ideas grant from Coastal EMC, a $1,000 Target community grant and a $599 Mabel Wyche Underwood grant from the Georgia Library Media Association.
Bradwell Institute administrators hope to remodel the media center next year, Assistant Principal Jason Stickler said.