Clarisse Bushman, media specialistIt’s great to know when your peers think you’ve done well in your career. Here’s a story from the online Northern Virginia Daily about a high school media specialist who has been named Teacher of the Year for the Shenandoah County (VA) Public Schools. Clarisse Bushman of Strasburg High School, one of the rare media specialists who gets officially recognized for excellence by her state or her district – there are so many more classroom teachers one might select instead, and No Child Left Behind emphasizes the role of the classroom teacher while minimizing the library media specialist’s role as “support staff.”

Bushman remembers when she used to work at Stonewall Jackson High School 12 years ago, where she had only a single dial-up connection to the Net. Now her library has full high-speed Internet access, but she’s experienced enough to teach her students that getting everything they can care of Google isn’t necessarily the best way to go:

As the library media specialist at Strasburg, where she has worked for the past three years, she helps students find the information they need and collaborates with teachers on projects. Bushman pushes academic integrity, asking students to cite sources and rely heavily on databases and reference and print materials before surfing the Internet.

“I love the fact that we have choices, I just want them to understand what are the good choices,” she said. “I want them to have the best information they can have.”

But, like most of us who lived through the transition to the Net, the need to help young people love to read real books reigns supreme:

Despite the changes around her, Bushman’s main objective is one that has stayed the same — get students excited about reading. In her time at Strasburg, circulation has gone up 164 percent, she said. The students who have usually been less inclined to read have found a genre of books to their liking, whether it be graphic novels or books on hunting, tractors or wrestling.

“That’s my passion right there,” Bushman said. “If they’re not reading, what’s the point?”

Congratulations to Ms. Bushman. It’s always great to see one of us library folk become celebrated for things – such as how to be information literate – that lots of folks not in our field sometimes need a little explanation to understand.

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