• May 1, 2017
    Fort Couch librarian recognized for leadership

    Mary Grace Kelly Fort Couch Middle School Librarian Mary Grace Kelly recently completed the Sustaining Leaders Academy for Pennsylvania School Librarians. Ms. Kelly, along with 23 other librarians from throughout the commonwealth, was recognized at the 44th Annual Pennsylvania School Librarians Conference in Hershey.

    Among the 23 participating librarians, Ms. Kelly was one of only five from Allegheny County. Other Allegheny County districts included Brentwood Borough, Fox Chapel Area, Pine-Richland and Shaler Area school districts.

    “This experience broadened my professional network to include some of the best and brightest librarians in the state who lead many of the most noteworthy school library programs,” Ms. Kelly said. “This professional learning community has and will serve to help me to continue to improve both the Fort Couch Middle School and the Upper St. Clair School District library program now and into the future.”

    According to the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association’s website, the Sustaining Leaders Academy is an innovative, immersive professional development experience designed to sustain the current generation of school library leaders in Pennsylvania schools and in PSLA to assure a systematic succession plan so that Pennsylvania students will have strong and effective school library programs led by school librarians who are leaders in their schools and professional associations at the local, regional and state levels in the coming decades.

    “Every student in every school deserves a library that is staffed with a certified librarian who keeps abreast of the trends in education and continues to develop collaborative programs that teach the information literacy skills necessary to meet the growing academic needs of each student,” Ms. Kelly said. “In the complex world that students will enter beyond the K-12 environment, mastery of information literacy skills is essential for developing critical thinkers and life-long learners.”

    Participants of the Academy were involved in a four-day immersion experience last summer in Hershey and participated in the annual PSLA Leadership Summit that followed. Each month during the past year members also participated in a Virtual Academy – a series of monthly meetings that focused on a specific topic in education and in building competencies.

    The program’s culminating activity for each participant was to submit a program proposal for the annual PSLA Conference, March 30-April 1, in Hershey. Ms. Kelly’s proposal “Teaching Information Literacy Skills in a Digital Age,” was among those selected to be presented at this conference.

    “In our world of information overload, all students more than ever need to be able to understand the world around them and the ability to identify and differentiate factual information from ‘fake news,’ while developing their own style of self-expression,” Ms. Kelly said. “My professional learning experience focused on developing information literacy skills training and assessments for Fort Couch Middle School students.”

    The Sustaining Leaders Academy, a prototype collaboration between the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association and the University of Pittsburgh School Library Certification Program, is funded through a grant from the Library Services and Technology Act by Commonwealth Libraries, Pennsylvania Department of Education.

    “Programs like the Sustaining Leadership Academy provides a forum for learning and a community that encourages innovation in developing long range programing, which will only provide a stronger foundation for our students,” Ms. Kelly said. “The professional learning community that has formed through this shared experience and the support of its seasoned professional mentors will continue to add value to these initiatives.”

    Learn more about the Sustaining Leaders Academy online at http://www.psla.org/teaching-and-learning/sustaining-leaders-academy/.