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North Hills school library media specialist recognized for work

Elizabeth Spicer, a library media specialist for the North Hills School District (left), was named a Champion of Change for 2013 by the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. With her is Jeff Taylor, the school district's assistant superintendent for curriculum, assessment, and special programs, who nominated her for the award.

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By Melanie Donahoo
Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

As a child, Elizabeth Spicer would set up a play library and then ask her mother to check books out so she could mark the due date.

Today, as a library media specialist in the North Hills School District, Spicer's integration of new technology into school libraries is why she recently was named a Champion of Change by the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, or AIU.

“Being a Champion of Change means continuing to make print and electronic books and information available to my students and teaching them how to be effective and responsible users of information,” said Spicer, of Richland Township.

The award acknowled-ges educators and leaders who use a creative approach to enhance learning. Champions of Change embrace technology and seek new and effective ways to engage children in the learning process, said Sarah McCluan, communications services supervisor for the AIU.

When students are actively engaged in the instructional process with the use of technology, their excitement is almost contagious, Spicer said.

“The expression on kindergartners' faces when they find endangered animals on different continents around the world on the World Wildlife Foundation application is confirmation the students are learning,” Spicer said.

As both the library curriculum leader for kindergarten through the 12th grade, as well as the library and media specialist for McIntyre Elementary School in Ross Township, Spicer is implementing creative approaches to digital and information literacy, said Jeff Taylor, assistant superintendent for curriculum, assessment, and special programs in the district.

Taylor said he nominated Spicer for the Champion of Change award because her combination of pedagogical, technological and content knowledge makes her an excellent educator in the 21st-century classroom.

“She (Spicer) has championed the use of iPads at the elementary libraries in order to engage students in both active reading strategies as well as using curriculum-based apps to align with various subject areas,” said Taylor, of Ross.

Re-envisioned libraries will expand on innovations that the district already has instituted, Spicer said.

“This initiative includes renovating our two secondary libraries to ensure maximum access for the multitude of purposes media centers meet in today's learning environments,” Spicer said. The work is expected to be completed by the beginning of the next school year.

“Creation Stations will be accessible for students to collaborate on media projects to synthesize and communicate their ideas.”

A total 27 educators from Allegheny County were honored as Champions of Change at an awards luncheon in October at the AIU headquarters in Homestead.

Spicer has worked for the North Hills School District for 22 years and said educators today are preparing students to live and work in a world “we cannot even imagine.”

“Being a library media specialist is a challenging job these days,” Spicer said. “It requires being on the cutting edge of changes in technology in order to prepare our students to be 21st century learners.”

Melanie Donahoo is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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