A library media specialist at Discovery Middle School in South Bend, IN, was recently named Teacher of the Year for all of her efforts involving a live TV show broadcast featuring her students each morning. According to media reports, the TV studio and control room are extremely busy just before the morning broadcast every day at 9 am. The newscast for Discovery Middle School goes live on screens all through the building at that time. The two anchors, who are students at the school, read news announcements, and news staffers run the cameras and encourage the anchors to smile more and to speak loudly and slowly.
The entire broadcast is over in seven minutes, and then the teacher, Kathy Burnette, moves on to her other tasks for the day. She notes that whatever a teacher wants her to do, she tries to do. Her big duty in the morning is to administer the live TV broadcast. During the rest of the day, she is in and out of many classrooms, and she tries to help teachers in any ways that she is needed.
She might do talks about books, teach how to do library research or participate in lessons about reading, history or libraries.
Burnette usually carries a tote bag that is bigger than most of the students at the school carry. It has her laptop, iPad, books and everything else she needs for her job. This particular week, she also is boxing up books in the library of the school, as it is going to get new carpet at the end of the year.
According to teachers at the school, Burnette has gone a long way to changing the school for the better. She has turned it into a community of reading. She knows a lot about books and she makes both adults and students want to read more and to talk about books.
Burnette says that she always has read books and sometimes will even read a book at a party. She says that if you want students to get passionate about reading, you have to model the behavior for them. She notes that in the summer, she tries to read at least one book per day. She tends to read books that are written for middle school kids, professional educators and also books for adults.
Some of her all time favorites include Jane Eyre and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Burnette did not want to be a librarian at the start of her career. She actually got her degree in accounting at Northern Illinois University. She was an accountant for several years but did not like the work.
She moved to South Bend and earned her teacher’s license at Indiana University South Bend. She started teaching in the local school district in 2000, but she earned her master’s degree in library science in 2007. It was at that point that she became passionate about libraries and reading, and decided she wanted to focus her work on libraries and books.
She has started book clubs at lunch time, led book talks and started a One Book, One School program. This means that every student and employee at the school gets a copy of the same book and reads it and participates in discussions about the book.
She also has written grants that have paid for the purchase of e-readers, and students may check them out to use at home or school.
Burnette views the library as a full media center and are integrating more technology than ever before in their operation. Students go to the library to use computers, find good information and to also read books. She says she will do whatever she has to to encourage kids to read books.