CCPS School Librarians Receive Honors from the Maryland Association of School Librarians – Charles County Public Schools


Six school librarians from Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) were recently recognized as part of the School Librarian of the Year Cohort by the Maryland Association of School Librarians (MASL).

Each year, MASL names a School Librarian as the School Librarian of the Year for their outstanding service and achievement in the field. This year, the association has chosen to reward a group of school librarians. Of 52 applicants from across Maryland, 38 were selected for special recognition. Six of the 38 are CCPS school librarians.

Honorees include Margaret Donahue of Henry E. Lackey High School; Karen Ferruzza of Arthur Middleton Elementary School; Heather Hartman-Jansen of Milton M. Somers Middle School; Dawn Murphy of JC Parks Elementary School; Lisa Smiroldo of Piccowaxen Middle School; and Tim Steelman of Theodore G. Davis Middle School.

“There are so many things that make someone a good school librarian,” said Dedra Van Gelder, Library Media Specialist for CCPS. “First, they have to be great teachers. Teaching is a big part of what we do. Leadership skills are another essential part of being successful in the job, as is team spirit. “You also have to be curious and have the spark to learn throughout life,” said Van Gelder. “Librarians are information specialists. We may not have all the answers, but we know how to find them.

Margaret Donahue, Laquais

Donahue began her teaching career at CCPS as an earth science and chemistry teacher at Westlake High School before moving to Lackey as a high school resource teacher. However, her “dream job” was a librarian and she started library certification courses at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, now known as Notre Dame of Maryland University.

“The transition from the role of resource teacher to the role of media specialist has been extremely beneficial,” she said. “This has provided me with a wealth of curriculum knowledge across all content areas and continues to be a great foundation for my teaching knowledge. Donahue has been a school librarian in Lackey for seven years. The previous couple pushed her to better develop her technological expertise. “I can attest that there was no dull moment,” Donahue said.

Karen Ferruzza, Middleton

Ferruzza has been a school librarian in Middleton for 18 years. She received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Salisbury University and a Masters of Technology for Educators from Johns Hopkins University. She received a library certificate from the College of Our Lady of Maryland. Ferruzza taught in grades four and five before becoming a school librarian. “I like to teach at all levels,” she says. “I am learning from each of them.” Ferruzza said she enjoys working in a school because she can combine her love of children’s literature with technology. “I work in a school because children bring so much joy and inspiration to the world,” she said.

Heather Hartman-Jansen, Somers

Hartman-Jansen has been a school librarian since 2005. She received a BA in English History and Literature from the University of California at Irvine and an MA in Library Science from San José State University. Before becoming a school librarian, she taught elementary, middle and high school students. “I got into the library business because it was a way to work with and get all the students involved,” Hartman-Jansen said. “Understanding information and resources are essential skills in life, as well as reading. As a school librarian, Hartman-Jansen can use his teaching skills, as well as his know-how in information, research and technology. “Every day is creative and new,” she said, adding that the college students are curious, serious and fun. “And for the most part, they understand my jokes,” Hartman-Jansen said.

Dawn Murphy, Parks

After graduating from Towson University with a BA in Elementary Education, Murphy began teaching first year at JC Parks. She also taught fourth grade at Parks and sixth grade English language arts at Theodore G. Davis Middle School. As a college teacher, Murphy felt that students weren’t as invested in reading as they could be. “I was losing the pleasure of reading with the students,” she said. Murphy received a master’s degree in educational technology from Towson and a certificate in library science from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. In 2016, she became a school librarian at Parks. “I really enjoy reading with the students and motivating them to read,” she said. Murphy enjoys changing her voice for different characters when reading picture books to younger students. Along with older students, she strives to teach them to be critical thinkers when reading and using media.

Lisa Smiroldo, Piccowaxen

Smiroldo has been a school librarian for 21 years – eight years at primary level and 13 years at middle school. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications – radio, television and film, and a master’s degree in educational leadership – library media. Smiroldo entered the field of school librarians out of love for books and reading. “Promoting the love of reading with students and matching their interests with books is very rewarding, especially when the students come back to ask for more suggestions,” she said. Smiroldo also teaches students about media and digital culture. “[It] helps them become productive users of technology and more aware of making decisions based on what they have learned, not just believing what they see on social media, ”she said. “I love being in college because of the conversation you can have with the students and the personal growth you can see in them from grades six to eight.”

Tim Steelman, Davis

Steelman holds a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s of arts in education and a master’s of science in library science. He has been a school librarian at Davis since 2010. He worked at a biological resource center before becoming a teacher. As a new teacher, he was assigned a mentor. Mary Gerrity, a school librarian, was hers. Over the years, they have spoken often. “Ms. Gerrity was very helpful in teaching me that many of my interests fit well with the field of librarianship without knowing that was what she was doing,” Steelman said. of computer programming, Steelman sponsors STEAM-focused clubs in Davis and oversees a Library Assistant program to introduce the library profession to students. “Middle school students creatively use their knowledge base to learn by exploring new ideas. and new concepts, ”he said.“ My favorite [thing] it is listening to them talk about the quality of their newly discovered fiction or non-fiction book when they read or finish it.

Over the summer, a MASL selection committee named Donahue, Ferruzza, Hartman-Jansen, Murphy, Smiroldo and Steelman as part of a cohort that exemplifies the characteristics of a high quality school librarian as set out in the American Association of School Librarians National School Library Standards for Learners, Librarians, and Libraries.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provide an academically stimulating education for 27,000 K-12 students. Located in southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that provide technologically advanced, progressive, high-quality education that builds character, prepares leadership, and prepares students for life, careers, and life. ‘Higher Education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its employment programs, activities or practices. For any inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX / ADA / Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX / ADA / Section 504 Coordinator (employees / adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L Starkey Administration Building, BP 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610 / 301-870-3814. For special accommodations, call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks before the event.

CCPS provides equal and non-discriminatory access to school facilities in accordance with its rules for the use of the facilities to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, Boy Scouts).


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