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Floyd County Schools determining vision of media centers in 21st century

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Floyd County Schools is looking at bringing back nine media specialist positions that the system cut during the 2013 reduction in force.

Since that time, the current nine media specialists split their time between two schools and paraprofessionals fill in during their absence. But Superintendent John Jackson said board members have asked system officials to look into fully-staffing each school with a media specialist, bumping the number of these full-time certified positions back up to 18.

However, in hiring more media specialists, the system wanted to make sure they had the job description match what media centers have become in the 21st century, as the model of a traditional library setting is being altered to align with greater integration of technology into schools.

“Gone also is the role of the media specialist (or "librarian" in days gone by) as keeper of all written knowledge and enforcer of quietness,” Jackson wrote in his Dec. 1 newsletter. “But rather, his or her role now is to make the space inviting and be one of the main cheerleaders of literacy.”

The idea of turning media centers into makerspaces and collaborative work environments, filled with technology have gained steam in recent years.

“In place of endless rows of books, there is flexible seating and places where students can meet and collaborate around projects,” Jackson wrote in his newsletter.

The system has been looking at what other schools have done, making to trips to elementary schools, with a visit to a Cobb County high school scheduled as well, to find examples of what could be implemented locally.

In his newsletter, Jackson solicited students and teachers to give their input on what they want their media centers to look like. And over the last week quite a bit of feedback has come in, he said.

Some of those offering suggestions were students at Pepperell High, which, through funds received from a Striving Readers Grant, has purchased furniture and equipment to make its center more conducive to collective work.

“We’re just trying to figure out who we want to be,” Jackson said.

The timing of determining what Floyd County Schools media centers should be is just right, Jackson said, as system officials turn to setting up the budget.