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2016 Media Specialist of the Year

Macedonia ES Media Specialist Named 2016 CCSD Media Specialist of the Year

CCSD Media Specialist of the Year 5 3 4 16

CCSD Media Specialist of the Year Jennifer Rice of Macedonia Elementary School is surrounded by family and friends.

When Macedonia Elementary School Media Specialist Jennifer Rice wanted to “change up” what she was doing as a classroom teacher, she didn’t envision that it would lead to her true calling.

Instead of moving from one grade level to another, she moved from a traditional classroom to the media center. And on Friday, March 4, she was surprised in the media center that she now calls her classroom by the Superintendent of Schools, family and colleagues, who surprised her with the announcement that she is the 2016 Cherokee County School District Media Specialist of the Year. She now will represent CCSD in the State-level competition.

“If you would have asked me what my dream career was, I would have said three: media specialist, event planner or prop builder,” she said, and then gestured around the media center, which was decked out for a Read Across America event with plenty of colorful props. “I really feel like this is the place I’m supposed to be.”

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower in making the presentation praised Ms. Rice for the energy and passion that she brings to her work.

“I believe in passionate educators,” he said. “You don’t just need a passionate educator in the classroom, you need them in the cafeteria, the front office, the media center – and Jennifer, you embody that.”

He went on to detail for the crowd of well-wishers the way that Ms. Rice has transformed the center. She not only has increased the annual circulation numbers from 30,000 to more than 70,000, but created a “cabin” reading room for reading “camp-outs” and increased PTA involvement. As she accepted her award, parent and student volunteers quietly worked their way up and down aisles, shelving books and creating displays. A new project she’s embarking on, Books on the Bus, will bring a mobile library to low-income students who receive free lunches delivered to their neighborhoods during the summer break.

“You empower people and you engage kids… to me, this is what media specialist is all about in the 21st Century,” Dr. Hightower said.

A graduate of Georgia College & State University, where she earned bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degrees in education, Ms. Rice, in addition to her traditional media specialist responsibilities, also organizes the school’s reading bowl team, spelling bee and student news team. She recently was named to the Georgia Children’s Picturebook Award Committee for a three-year appointment.

Principal Tammy Castleberry applauds Ms. Rice for seeing not only students as her customers.

“She touches every child and every teacher in this school,” Principal Castleberry said, noting Ms. Rice’s programs for teachers such as monthly “Tech Tuesday” programs to introduce them to new instructional technology. The school book fairs, she added, also have been transformed by Ms. Rice into significant fundraisers that increase literacy as well, with $120,000 in books sold so far.

2016 Innovation Zone Library Media Specialists of the Year

Cherokee Zone: Lori Brackett of Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy

Etowah Zone: Madeline Hall of Clark Creek ES STEM Academy

River Ridge Zone: Deana Miller of Little River ES

Sequoyah Zone: Elease Franchini of Sequoyah HS

Woodstock Zone: Amy VanFossen of Woodstock ES