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New librarian hopes to reach out to students
0906 Susan Fuentes
Media specialist Susan Fuentes puts up stars on her “Walk of Literacy” at Smiley Elementary School. - photo by Photo by Mike Riddle
Smiley Elementary School has a new media specialist, and even though this is Susan Fuentes’ first year working in the library, she isn’t new to education.
Fuentes has been a teacher for 16 years, the past nine in Long County. Before that, she taught for seven years in Liberty County.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Georgia Southern University and a master’s in education from Armstrong Atlantic University. Fuentes will complete her media certification this year.
She has also won several teaching awards and was chosen as a Disney teacher award nominee. Fuentes was selected for “Who’s Who Among American Teachers,” and was once named teacher of the year in Long County.
Although she said the awards are nice, Fuentes’ focus is reaching her students.
“I want to reach more kids. Serving in this capacity, I can do that, and I can help the children foster
a love for reading,” she said.
Fuentes said she began promoting reading through various projects on her first day in Smiley’s media center.
She recently implemented a Hollywood theme,  decorating the school with stars, scaffolds, cameras and director’s chairs. As the finishing touch, Fuentes installed a “Walk of Literacy.”
To encourage the school’s 950 students to join in the accelerated reading program, the librarian told the children that for every book they read and for ever test they pass, she will place stars with their names on
them on the “Walk of Literacy.”
“The idea for the stars was a great idea, but it doesn’t surprise me with Mrs. Fuentes. She is a great teacher and her being in the library will only enhance and make a good media center even better,” Smiley Principal David Edwards said.
In addition to improving the accelerated reading program, Fuentes has increased the number of students who use the library.
This year, Long County’s pre-K center was moved from near Walker Middle School to behind Smiley Elementary. The new pre-K students now have access to the media center.
Fuentes is making a lot of positive changes around the library, but she’ll be the first to admit she’s had a lot of support.
“I thank God for giving me the opportunity to be the media specialist at such a wonderful school. And I thank my principals, co-workers, my friends and, especially, my family for always encouraging and believing in me. Without all of these people’s support, I could not have done it,” Fuentes said.
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