School media specialists work with every student in a school and work to make their libraries a welcoming place for their students, providing them with an environment to learn and expand their knowledge.
One of those media specialists is Amber White, a 2022 master’s graduate of UNC Greensboro’s library science program who is currently employed at Kirkman Park Spanish Immersion Elementary School.
Prior to joining the MLIS program at UNCG, White had a narrow view of what a school library really did. She said, “We have a perception of what a librarian used to be like. Of course (UNCG) taught me how to run a library, dial in my collection to make sure I am serving my population, and more. However, UNCG also taught me that libraries can be a place that is more than just a house for books. It taught me how to have my students see themselves in the books. To have a collection that can take them to places they may never experience and meet their needs. We are creating curiosity and building a community of leaders.”
Her time at UNCG allowed White to broaden her knowledge of books and learn ways to reach potential readers in her library. She said that would not be possible without the “engaging, helpful” professors in the program.
White says that her UNCG degree has allowed her to “influence more students and be a small part in changing their lives.”
Some of her most memorable classes in her time at UNCG were storytelling and young adult literature. From those classes, White has incorporated a variety of methods of storytelling in her current role. She uses things such as voices and reader’s theater and hopes to use props in the future. Drawing on her UNCG experiences that have allowed her to broaden her knowledge of popular books that could be of interest to students has also helped White connect with her older students.
Today’s school library is different from what many remember. Students used to go to the library to just check out a book or listen to a story read aloud by the librarian. In her library today, White holds STEAM challenges, trash-to-treasure maker spaces, allows children to use problem-solving thinking skills, and hosts local author and illustrator Timmy Bauer. White says she encourages her students to think outside the box and credits her time at UNCG for helping to make all of that possible.
White has pushed herself throughout her life. She used the experience of losing her left leg to a rare childhood cancer in 2004 to learn more about herself. White says, “Although it did not affect me academically, it helped me to see that if I can overcome that hard thing, I can overcome other hard things. Also, just like it’s easy to underestimate me because of my disability, we often underestimate ourselves and our abilities. However, we have to know that we are capable of more. Getting my master’s is just one more way to keep bettering myself and continue to push forward.”
She tries to impart that message along to students. If a student talks about how hard a task is, or how they are struggling with something in their life, White helps them try to remain positive and to think of ways to attack the problem.
White says, “Every chance I get, we discuss how they are capable of doing hard things, are worthy of good things, and dream big.”