Skip To Main Content

Logo Image

Logo Title

2018 Innovation Zone Library Media Specialists of the Year

Our school media specialists are extraordinary, and we’re profiling our Innovation Zones’ Media Specialists of the Year to celebrate them.  

Please read all about the Cherokee Innovation Zone’s 2018 honoree, Leslie Hicks of Knox Elementary School!

Leslie Hicks sees the media center as Knox Elementary School’s biggest classroom… more than just a place for books, it’s a place for learning.

Her dedication to expanding how it can better serve students and staff led the Cherokee Innovation Zone to name her its 2018 Media Specialist of the Year!

Ms. Hicks, who earned her education degree in 2007 and later earned master’s and specialist degrees in the field, began her career as a middle school teacher.  While teaching at Woodstock Middle School, the media specialist there, Pati Olton, inspired Ms. Hicks to pursue a new career as a media specialist. 

Ms. Hicks’ passion for her new job, in turn, inspired Ms. Olton: “Leslie is a consummate professional, an advocate for both students and teachers, and the most enthusiastic and charming person I have ever had the pleasure to work with.”

In her role at Knox ES, Ms. Hicks blends community partnerships, technology and creativity to further increase usage of the media center through activities like Mystery Skype video conferences with experts connected to classroom lessons and Fam Jam after-school learning programs.

In her own words: “Media specialists give students connections through literature that they might not ever get anywhere else.  The media center is a magical place with endless possibilities.”


Please read all about the Creekview Innovation Zone’s 2018 honoree, Anne Thiers of Creekview High School!

For Media Specialist Anne Thiers, the media center at Creekview High School is its heart… and in more ways than one.

Not only is it a central place and a resource used by all students and staff, it’s also a place where they can come to “feel known and valued.”

A former reading teacher who earned bachelor and master degrees in education and a specialist degree in instructional technology and school library media, Ms. Thiers keeps this vision in mind when designing the space and its activities, and in how she treats each visitor to the center.  Seeing her role as an “adult who listens… intently, and without judgment,” she connects them to resources, plans activities at which they can learn and succeed, and encourages them to participate and collaborate.

Her encouragement has led the Reading Bowl team she coaches to statewide victory this year, after a second-place finish last year!  And her dedication to students has led her to create extraordinary events like welcoming therapy dogs to the media center during finals week.

In her own words: “My mission as a library media specialist is to create a warm and empowering center of collaborative learning that supports all stakeholders in linking new knowledge to prior knowledge as well as connecting to one another and building community.”


Please read all about the Etowah Innovation Zone’s 2018 honoree, Jennifer Martin of Boston Elementary School!

Boston Elementary School is not home to a media center, but to a “21st-Century Learning Commons,” as Media Specialist Jennifer Martin calls it.

As a former technology lab teacher, her knowledge of and passion for effective use of instructional technology and teaching children to leverage that knowledge to expand their learning led the Etowah Innovation Zone to name her its 2018 Media Specialist of the Year.

A parent media center volunteer shares a story that speaks volumes.  Ms. Martin was teaching a group of kindergartners about a new app.  One child held his iPad, very interested in the opportunity to create a character, but would not speak into the recorder to give it a voice and movement.  That was until Ms. Martin encouraged him to talk about Pokémon and named his favorite character – and then he spoke!

“I looked at her in amazement,” the parent said, “not necessarily because he spoke, but because she knew!  She knew he liked Pokémon, she knew his favorite character, she knew about his Pokémon world.  This is what Mrs. Martin does with every child at Boston, all 600-plus.”

In her own words: “Making personal connections with all of my teachers and students is one of my top priorities each year.  I try to know everyone’s name and something about that person so that I can make a connection.”


Please read all about the River Ridge Innovation Zone’s 2018 honoree, Linda Chapman of Mill Creek Middle School!

Mill Creek Middle School Media Specialist Linda Chapman plays many roles, ranging from research instructor to Reading Bowl coach to digital citizenship teacher.

But her passion is for the heart of the media center: fostering a love of reading.  It’s this love for literacy, coupled with her knowledge of all the modern advances of library science today from technology to online resources, that led the River Ridge Innovation Zone to name her its 2018 Media Specialist of the Year!

Principal Dr. Kerry Martin applauds Ms. Chapman’s interest in the individual student and building rapport with each one, an “impressive” commitment for any educator, especially one who serves an entire middle school.

She talks with students to learn their interests and uses that information to keep the collection relevant to them.  In addition to co-sponsoring the Reading Bowl, Ms. Chapman also sponsors a Dewey Library Squad club for students who share her love of libraries and of community service… like the “Food for Fines” campaign that lets students retire book fines by donating canned foods for a local food pantry (750 pounds of it this year!).

In her own words: “Reading is the foundation for all learning and should be at the core of every media program.  The main responsibility of a media specialist is to encourage and promote reading.”


Please read all about the Woodstock Innovation Zone’s 2018 honoree, Jennifer Cogdill of Woodstock High School!

The Woodstock High School media center is a hub of learning, engagement and activity.

Whether it’s hosting students for a Maker Space lesson or transformed into the Career Café for weekly “lunch and learn” programs with college- and career-readiness guest speakers, the media center is a place for study and resources, but it’s also much more.

Media Specialist Jennifer Cogdill’s vision of the media center as “a place of critical thinking and learning experiences” and her creativity and dedication to make that vision a reality led the Woodstock Innovation Zone to name her its 2018 Media Specialist of the Year!

Principal Mark Smith praises her as a dedicated, enthusiastic servant leader who “inspires students and instills in them the desire to learn more.”  Her background as a classroom teacher coupled with her library media studies and technology expertise provide the school with extraordinary media center services and leadership.

In her own words: “I think it’s the little things that matter the most.  I greet every teacher and student I see with a smile.  I believe that by having a good attitude, both teachers and students will see the media center as an extension of their own classroom and make the effort to build relationships, collaborate and learn.”