Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower congratulates E.T. Booth Middle School media specialist Amanda Graves on earning the title of CCSD's 2021 Media Specialist of the Year.
NOTE: See more photos from the surprise presentation here.
E.T. Booth Middle School media specialist Amanda Graves doesn’t wait for students to visit her library.
She dons a biker vest and peddles a custom tricycle down the school’s halls to deliver books to them as the “Book Biker.” She stocks a vending machine inside the school with books, instead of snacks, to feed their hunger for knowledge. She fills a Little Free Lending Library on the school’s campus with books they can borrow at any hour. She surprises them by appearing in costume – an inflatable T. Rex among the most memorable – to remind them of books’ power to spark imagination and joy.
“She is one of the most creative individuals I have had the pleasure of working with,” Principal Todd Sharrock said. “There is never a dull moment with Mrs. Graves at the helm.”
Her incredible enthusiasm for literacy and dedication to the learning of her students and colleagues alike led to the announcement today that she is the Cherokee County School District’s 2021 Media Specialist of the Year.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower made the surprise presentation to Ms. Graves, who now advances to represent CCSD in the Regional competition, from which she could move on to the State contest.
“Amanda is a dreamer and a doer,” Dr. Hightower said. “She not only embeds creativity in all she does, but she also backs it up with knowledge gained from her years of experience and studies in her field. This honor comes as no surprise to me, as it is much deserved and overdue. Amanda already represents our school district at the State level through her role on the Georgia Library Media Association board, and we know she would represent the entire State with excellence as its Media Specialist of the Year.”
As part of today’s celebration, she was awarded an iPad tablet and plaque, with the costs sponsored by Credit Union of Georgia, a CCSD Partner. Ms. Graves also will be congratulated by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools through a virtual recognition at the March School Board meeting.
All CCSD school media specialists were eligible for the award, and Ms. Graves was selected as the winner from a pool of outstanding nominees by a judging committee of retired educators and community leaders.
Ms. Graves joined CCSD in 2016 after service as a media specialist in Cobb County, has earned bachelor, master and education specialist degrees, and is studying to earn a doctorate from the University of West Georgia in school improvement with a focus on media specialist skills.
“I believe that student engagement is more than walking between the bookshelves,” she said. “It is my vision that media specialists and media centers have the ability to be a true change agent within their schools.”
She has earned numerous accolades over her career including two top honors from the Georgia Library Media Association: the Intellectual Freedom Award and the Exceptional School Library Award. Ms. Graves is renowned for her success in winning grants for the media center, as well as her social media skills promoting her school’s media center and the CCSD Media Specialists organization. Her innovation and dedication led Principal Sharrock to appoint her to his school Leadership Team and to support her creativity, which this year shone even brighter through her work to overcome pandemic restrictions on typical media center activities and to engage with the school’s Digital Learners studying at home.
“I want our students to look around and see the importance of reading at every turn,” she said. “My goal is that the love of reading and literacy seamlessly integrate within every aspect of our school and community.”
Celebrating the surprise presentation are, from left to right,Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Kathy Winiarczyk of Credit Union of Georgia, E.T. Booth Middle School media specialist Amanda Graves, Principal Todd Sharrock, and Joy Silk, CCSD Supervisor of Digital Learning, who also oversees the CCSD Media Specialists program.