September is National Literacy Month, and GAC has a great role model in its 18-year-veteran Media Specialist Ms. Bonnie Baker. A voracious reader, she read 42 books over the past summer alone and has read 5,000 of the 14,479 titles in the Liles Media Center to date. (She keeps a spreadsheet to track her progress). Ms. Baker has one piece of advice for students who want to know her secret: “Don’t have screens nearby!”
Although reading is her favorite hobby, she too struggles with the temptation to do “something else” while she is reading. “If I had something dinging and buzzing and telling me someone is trying to contact me all the time, I’d want to play around with it too,” she says. “It’s challenging for me too. If the thing that is holding your book is also holding your social media, it’s always going to be a distraction.” Ms. Baker recommends developing the self-discipline of reading without distractions and the habit of putting away anything that might interfere with your focus.
Yet Ms. Baker understands the importance of progress and the role of the school media center in the digital age. “The media center has transformed over the years into a place where students are not just consumers of written content, but creators of it also,” Ms. Baker said, noting the media center’s dedicated video production rooms and green screens.
She plays to her audience, making sure that the Liles Media Center is a lively place where problem-solving, collaboration, and teamwork live. Two breakout rooms engage the students in fun competition while testing and reinforcing reading comprehension. Ms. Baker creates the games herself, customizing them to each teacher’s curriculum and specifications. Classes split up and problem-solve their way to academic victory. Using invisible ink, puzzles, and other tricks, the breakout rooms primarily serve English classes, but science, math, and history classes have also utilized Ms. Baker’s breakout room games in order to solidify their knowledge base.
A self-proclaimed story lover, Ms. Baker strives to get to know each student who walks through the door so that she can recommend just the right book. “I’m convinced that absolutely everyone loves the stories that can be found in books. We just have to find the right story for each student.” Her latest go-to book recommendation: “Undefeated: The Story of Jim Thorpe” by author Steve Sheinkin.