Education & Advocacy Lead to Jobs for AUS Library Graduates

Library_2096Antioch University Seattle’s Masters in Education with Library Media concentration is taking a strong leadership role and proving that through vision, networking and hard-work its graduates can achieve employment and create social change, even in tough economic times.

The success of the program can be seen in its results. This past summer 12 of the program’s recent graduates found jobs in their field. The program celebrates its fifth anniversary this year of preparing its graduates to support the crucial role school libraries play in student learning.

Dr. Christie Kaaland, Education core faculty member and Horace Mann award-winner, notes that “graduates are modeling leadership, changing the field and challenging outmoded librarian stereotypes.”

As an example of leadership, Kaaland cites Sarah Applegate, an instructor in the program and past president of the Washington Library Media Association (WLMA). As a teacher-librarian at River Ridge High School in Lacey, Applegate has served as an advocate of both the AUS program and school libraries in general. She inspired two of her former high schoolers to join the teaching profession. One recent job applicant told Kaaland that her interviewing principal said the school has the highest regard for any applicant“who has worked for or been a student for Applegate as she’s one of the best school librarians in the state.”

The prestige of an AUS education has helped to get the 12 AUS grads hired this school year. They include Kristina Johnstone, Centralia School District; Julia Schumacher and Jeffrey Riley, Seattle School District; Stacy Dilworth, Dawn Baughman and Lisa Metcalf, Tacoma School District; Anne Machonis, Bellevue School District; Christina Thomsen, Auburn School District; Mark Gudger, North Kitsap School District; and Syrie Norton, Jamie Daniels and Carina Pierce, Bethel School District.

One AUS student and former Applegate student, Jamie Daniels, received a job offer from the Bethel School District even before she completed her coursework. This reputation for excellence is built on both the program’s academic rigor and its advocacy of school libraries as a basic element of education.

Kaaland notes, “Libraries have moved beyond the confines of four walls and librarians are being called upon to be school district curriculum and technology leaders. The role of librarian is the fastest changing teaching position in schools today. Teacher-librarians have a curricular domain. They teach and give grades. They train students and other teachers on new media like creating websites, blogs and wikis. They educate on internet safety, cyber-bullying and research skills.”

The combination of modern skills-training and advocacy gives AUS graduates access to a supportive professional network. Daniels describes this as possibly being,“the most beneficial aspect of attending courses there. To begin with, all of my professors were incredibly connected with library media organizations in Washington State. With two professors having served as former presidents of WLMA, and another being the current president, I felt confident that the information I was receiving was accurate and successful.

“Furthermore, the ability to receive personal phone numbers, emails, and Google chat names with my professors just isn’t something you receive at a university. Two of my professors were on my list of references, and they were both called by my current school. After speaking with my references, the principal stated that he knew I was going to be supported by AUS and my professors for years to come.

“Additionally, my professors pushed me to sign up for trainings, conferences and meetings that I might not have done otherwise. I am now not only attending the WLMA conference, but also presenting at the conference with a fellow classmate!”

AUS Education students are equipped and encouraged to participate in organizations like WLMA, including being presenters, because this level of visibility is essential to ensuring that legislators remain aware of the changes taking place in the role of libraries. Recent involvement by AUS instructors and graduates resulted in language in Washington state’s Basic Education Act, (SHB 2261 and 2776) that mandates a certificated teacher-librarian in every school.

These same advocates are now working to convince federal legislators to include similar language in Obama’s Basic Education Act, the reauthorization of ESEA, and are recruiting librarians around the country to get involved.

The AUS program has the support of two grants. The first one is a federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences’ 2007 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Grant program which partners AUS with Pennsylvania’s Mansfield University’s School of Library and Information Technologies and the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The purpose of the grant is to increase the number of school library media specialists across the nation.

The second grant the Chancellor’s Discretionary Academic Innovation Fund at Antioch University, will be used to design and pilot a hybrid online Master of Arts in Education degree with a library concentration over the next two years with the ultimate goal of expanding it across the other four Antioch University campuses. The initiative will also include support for the program’s legislative advocacy at the national level.

Learn more about our K-12 Library Media endorsement.

Antioch Voices- Elizabeth Baxmeyer

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