"[The Exemplary Library Media Program] is a very good program because it makes you analyze what you do and look at the rubric of what an exceptional library should be and you rate yourself and you tell what you do, and it's kind of hard because you're having to brag on yourself a little bit about your media program," said KES Media Specialist Lori Pilgrim, who is in her first year teaching on the elementary level after moving from Woodland High School's media center and originally coming from Pepperell Middle School in Floyd County.
Judy Serritella, who coordinates library media services for the Georgia Department of Education, said the award program is in its 10th year.
"The Georgia Department of Education established this award to honor and recognize outstanding library media programs and the library media specialists who create a nurturing environment, a place for learning outside of the classroom, and are educators in the true sense of the word. The Exceptional Award was created several years ago to honor those library media programs that had very high scores," Serritella said. "I wanted to recognize these 'runners-up' for the excellent work they do."
Serritella added Exceptional Library Media programs are eligible to apply for the award again every 10 years. She said GaDOE created the rubric with 19 criteria in which the school should consider its media center to be "proficient." The center should be considered "exemplary" in at least 14 of the areas.
"You have to be nominated from your school and I was nominated actually by three different people at my school without me knowing about it," Pilgrim said.
After learning of her nomination, Pilgrim wrote her narrative explaining how the KES media center meets this criteria.
"Some of the [criteria] we don't have control over and some of it we do," Pilgrim said. "One of the things we don't have control over of course is our square footage and there are state standards we have to meet ... One of the things they look at is scheduling, how we schedule students and so that's something we have to work with very closely with the administration in order to make sure that we have a flexible schedule so teachers can come in and collaborate with us."
Pilgrim said this year the theme for the library is "Driven to Read" and the library is decorated like a race car track.
"I really wanted to make [the library] inviting for the kids because if they don't want to come into the library, they're not going to want to read," Pilgrim said.
She said it was important for people to know the role of a media specialist is to provide students with instruction beyond the classroom.
"One of the things most people don't understand about media specialists is that we are certified teachers, most people think we just went to library school," Pilgrim said. "... We are very educated people who have been in the classroom -- I was in the classroom for many years on the middle school level -- and our job is to teach and support teachers."
Pilgrim said the job of media specialist is rewarding because of her work with teachers to aid students.
"There were several big projects I worked on with teachers, and to collaborate and work with them during the year, I guess that's what makes [my job] exceptional to me ... that ability to work with the teachers and see what they need help with to make sure we meet the kids' needs," Pilgrim said.
Principal Stefany Howard said the school is honored to have received the award and appreciates all of Pilgrim's services.
"We're extremely proud here at [KES] to have [Pilgrim] in our media center. She is an essential link to the school," Howard said. "Like a principal, she touches the educational life of every student and teacher being the hub of the school for us."