Spotlights
Celebrating National School Library Month - Meet Lisa Washington, library media specialist, Featherbed Lane Elementary
In honor of National School Library Month, we will feature profiles of three BCPS library media specialists and the work they do to ensure that school libraries transform learning. This is the first profile.
04/15/2015

Spotlight

It’s easy to conjure up images of a library: We often think of it as a place where individuals quietly work surrounded by towering wooden bookshelves, comfortable chairs, and hushed conversations.  

That might be true in some places, but not in Baltimore County public schools. Let’s take a peek into activities at the Featherbed Lane Elementary School library.

For most of the day, the library is, in its way, another classroom. “Each class in the school visits me once each week,” says Lisa Washington, Featherbed Lane’s library media specialist. “For most of the period, we tackle a lesson related to what they are learning in the classroom. Then in the last 10 minutes, the students get to check out two books.”

Washington describes herself as a teacher first and works closely with the school’s other teachers, Kindergarten through Grade 5, to ensure that student learning in the library supports and reinforces the curriculum.

Right now, Washington says, “Our Kindergarten students are learning about nonfiction. So when they come to the library, I talk with them about the differences between fiction and nonfiction, and we review some of the elements that are more likely to be found in nonfiction – like maps, charts, photographs, and diagrams. Our third graders are studying poetry so that is my focus with them. And when the fifth graders were involved in a unit about colonial times, I worked with them to research and create online flipbooks about the period.”

Supporting the students with their use of technology is a big part of Washington’s job. Washington credits the Office of Digital Learning and her fellow library media specialists for continually stretching her own knowledge of technology and technology resources.  

Spotlight

“What we do first with our students, at the beginning of the school year,” she says, “is a unit on digital citizenship. We explore how to be safe online, what a digital footprint is, how to manage your digital footprint, and how to prevent or respond to cyberbullying.”

Washington works with students on using technology for research, to develop presentations, and shows them how to communicate with each other and their teachers on the web.

“With so much information available online,” Washington notes, “one of the big challenges for students is understanding how to evaluate the accuracy of the information they find. I do a unit on information literacy with Grade 4 students, and we focus on how to discern if the information you have found is valid. I tell students all the time that not everything on the Internet is true. I teach them to ask questions about what they have found, to determine if the author or source is an expert, and to see if they can validate what they found through other sources.”

As much as technology is a part of students’ lives, Washington also points out how much her students “like holding books in their hands.”

“I love seeing our kids engrossed in reading,” Washington says. “Sometimes, they will focus on popular books-- like books about superheroes or Barbie or sports. I see it as part of my job to introduce them to other books and experiences.”

Although Washington took a winding path to becoming a library media specialist, her love of books has been a constant in her life.  “My cousins will tell you that as a child, I was always the one in the corner reading. Now, as an adult, I am usually reading three books at a time.”

Despite her lifelong interest in teaching, Washington worked as an accountant for 10 years before returning to school and becoming a language arts teacher at Southwest Academy. After five years at the middle school level, Washington shifted direction again and became a library media specialist.

Her vision for the future of Featherbed Lane’s library is that it will be “an innovative, exciting room where learning can be fun and takes place at all times.”

And she is already well on her way there.

When classes are finished in the library, students are still there…working on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fair and other projects. She’s even had the Digital Harbor Foundation come to the school twice to work with the kids on innovative “makerspace” activities. This year, she also coordinated a team of students in Grades 4 and 5 as they participated in a knowledge competition of black history and culture, and she and the school’s STEM team planned and implemented the school’s “I Love STEM” Day.

Washington says that she tells her students that this is their library.

“I am just the person here to help you,” she said.

©2017 Baltimore County Public Schools. All rights reserved. This site is optimized for 1280 display resolution and for use with the latest versions of most browsers.