January/February 2022

Volume 3.1

Welcome to the North Carolina School Library Media Association's Monthly newsletter!

Questions? Contact kenishasmith@ncslma.org

In this edition:

NCSLMA Website

Our Sponsors


Jenny Umbarger

NCSLMA President


Happy Library Lovers’ Month, NCSLMA members and supporters! I am honored that you have put your trust in me to serve as the President of NCSLMA for 2022.

NCSLMA was asked to recruit some students to participate in a panel discussion with Jason Reynolds at the recent NC PreK-12 Literacy and Equity Summit. Thank you to everyone who submitted nominations for this opportunity and congratulations to the students who participated:

  • Darrien Sanders, 9th grader from Hertford County Early College High School (nominated by Jennifer Smyth)

  • Montavious Bibb, 8th grader from Carrington Middle School in Durham County (nominated by Vanessa Calhoun)

  • Joshua Lang, 9th grader from Union Academy Charter School in Union County (nominated by Michelle Green)

During the introduction of Jason Reynolds as the summit’s opening keynote, school librarians received a special shout-out from EdNC reporter Rupen Fofaria: “A single book can at once be a mirror for one reader to see themselves and a window for another reader to learn about others. Librarians take great care in selecting these mirrors and windows. Just as we invest in our classroom teachers to explicitly and systematically instruct students on word recognition and language comprehension, I hope we invest resources in our school librarians to allow them to choose books that students will identify with, relate to, and grow from and rather than ban books, I hope we’ll have the courage to trust these professionals that we invest in.” During this time when many of our schools, libraries, and librarians are under attack for providing mirror, window, and sliding glass door books, it was refreshing to hear these supportive comments and I am hopeful that more of our supporters will begin to speak up and take action.

Our job is hard right now–perhaps harder than it has ever been–and I felt like Jason was speaking directly to me when he talked about his educator friends who are questioning their abilities and “wondering if they still have the chops for the gig just because it is becoming increasingly strained and strange.” But then (as with any time I hear Jason speak) he went on to both encourage and challenge me in my work–challenging us to recalibrate our thinking, read the landscape of our classrooms, and humanize education, noting that “I know I’m preaching to the choir, but even the choir gotta learn new songs, even the choir gotta go to choir practice.” Between his inspiring words and his interactions with/responses to the students on the call, Jason succeeded in giving me something to chew on, a little light, and a little fire.

If you didn’t get a chance to participate in the live event, there should be a few more days to catch the recording linked here.

Take care, friends, and stay warm, safe, and healthy!


Jennifer Abel

Conference Chair, President Elect

More information coming soon!


Calling All Bloggers

NCSLMA has a small blog on our website. If you would like to contribute to it, please send submissions to kristysartain@ncslma.org. We're looking for news items, stories about your library, fun events you have had, etc. Pictures can be included and are welcomed. There are no minimum or maximum length requirements. Share some of the great things going on in your library!

Members Only Winter Tune-Up 2022

2022 Winter Tune-Up

Robin Rhodes

NCSLMA Lead Regional Director

The virtual NCSLMA 2022 Winter Tune-Up mini-conference is just around the corner!  Be sure to register for this week-long virtual event to get great information on a wide variety of topics from expert presenters across the state. Both pre-recorded and live sessions will be available FREE  exclusively to NCSLMA members.  Go to the website to join or renew your membership.  A Certificate of Attendance will be provided to participants for submission to LEAs, along with links to presentations, and contact information for presenters to answer your questions. Following the Winter Tune-Up, each NCSLMA Regional Director will lead live sessions for members in their regions to network with one another to share ideas, concerns, and suggestions. Session details are available on the Members Only Winter Tune-Up 2022 Page .  Be sure to log in on the website to view.  We are really excited to offer this professional development event and look forward to your participation.  Questions?  Send them to


Better Together Grant Recipent Update

Chelsea Brantley, Media Coordinator

Nags Head Elementary School, Wrightsville, NC

Dear NCSLMA colleagues, 

The Círculo de amigos bilingual book club at Nags Head Elementary School is off to a great start. Students began meeting in November 2021, when they chose the first title that they wanted to read as a club. From a list of five librarian selected titles that reflect aspects of hispanic or latin american culture, they elected Fantasmas by Raina Telgemeier. 

During our next meeting, students were given language buddies, partners with whom they could discuss components of the book in both English and Spanish. With these buddies they have studied English and Spanish vocabulary, painting a word wall in the library; they have also selected panels from the book to reenact during reader’s theatre activities. This is in addition to reading in Spanish, having many engaging book discussions, making videos with their partners to demonstrate their comprehension, and learning about cystic fibrosis and El dia de los muertos. 

Primarily we are seeing that this club is bringing students together in celebration of Spanish language and culture. In a survey given to students returning from winter break, participants indicated that they highly enjoy participating in the book club, and many enthusiastically had ideas for fun future book club activities. We can certainly see that the students are taking ownership of this club and that it is enhancing their language skills and literacy! 

Your support of this project is so greatly appreciated! It is certainly making an impact at Nags Head Elementary School! 


Chelsea Brantley 

Media Coordinator

Volunteers Needed--Regions 1 & 2

Greetings from Your New Coastal Director

Sara Levin, Coastal Director

Kinston High, Media Coordinator


Hello, I look forward to serving Regions 1 (Northeast) & 2 (Southeast) as their director.  I am looking for volunteers to serve on my advisory board.  This board will represent their region/grade levels by selecting & planning professional development, social events (virtual & in-person if allowed), supporting our regions by addressing questions and concerns, and a little bit more as needed.  I hope to have representatives from elementary, middle, and high school levels from both regions.  I’m also looking for anyone from the Independent Region 9 who wants to join in the fun.  Most of our advisory board meetings will be virtual unless we just want to get together in-person.  Feel free to reach out to me if you have any suggestions, requests, or need help.

I also want to thank Delandrus Seales for her work as our previous Costal Director.  Her guidance as I step in to replace her, as if I really could, has been much appreciated.

NCSLMA Membership Winners

From November 1- December 15, NCSLMA ran its fall 2021 membership drive. From those who joined/renewed during the membership drive, five were selected at random to win prizes.

NCSLMA store prize pack winners:

  • Tara Floyd (K-5 librarian--Winston-Salem, NC)
  • Susan Spaanbroek (K-5 librarian--Williamston, NC)
  • Owen Gray (K-8 librarian--Boone, NX)
  • Julianne Dunn (9-12 librarian--Fayetteville, NC)

One year membership winner:

Marissa Jones (K-5 librarian--Raleigh, NC)

We have a new store!


Submit your commendation for an organization that supports reading and/or NC school libraries!

NCSLMA Sections

Director: Faith Huff

Director: Susan Sawin

Awards, Grants, Scholarships
Director: Sarah Justice

Book Programs
Director: Stacy Hersey

Director: Cindy Sturdivant

Director: Laura Aldridge

Regional Directors:
Lead: Robin Rhodes

Social Media
Director: Alicia Luke

Director: Kristy Sartain


The Influence of Good Literature

By Esther Darlene Glenn, Media Coordinator
R.N. Harris Elementary, Durham, NC

   I was exposed to the book, Martina, the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale, while reading a book about Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian in New York City who opened up the library to Spanish-speakers in her neighborhood.  At the opening to her community, Belpré had children act out a skit of Martina, the Beautiful Cockroach. Curious about the story, I searched for it on Amazon.com.  The book, retold by Carmen Agra Deedy and beautifully illustrated by Michael Austin, came with a three-track CD of an audio theater performance.  I smiled to myself with an excited wonder if our students could also perform the skit.

I quickly penned an email to both ESL teachers, the music, dance, art, violin, and gym teachers inquiring as to whether they had heard about the book and had any interest in it.  I asked if they thought it was appropriate for our audience and if they had shared it with their students.  My ideas kept flowing, then I emailed the violin teacher:

I just had a lightbulb moment...many a great theater productions have violin accompaniment.  What if we did Martina the Beautiful Cockroach with your violin students and performed it during your Spring concert? I'd love to collaborate with you on that!  Who said we couldn't extend the theme of Carnival to the Spring?  The theme, the story, and the music would be a grand learning experience for teachers and students.

Although she would defer to the ESL teacher for the Hispanic-Latino annual school program, the violin teacher was on-board with me to perform a short skit for the Spring Strings Concert. We sat down in a face-to-face meeting off-site at a local historic library to discuss collaboration. I learned that my enthusiasm generated a willingness to try something fresh and different in my coworker.  From the details of our conversation, I began to craft a Wiggins & McTighe Understanding by Design lesson plan centered around fourth grade learners.

Always endeavoring to bring good literature to the students, I enlisted the aid of the PTA and one supportive member to order multiple copies of Martina, the Beautiful Cockroach for the school’s library.  The PTA mom was able to obtain six copies for our library. Two years later, the fourth and fifth grade students have thoroughly enjoyed this colorful book.

It turned out that the ESL teacher had an interest in reader’s theater and researched the script on the Internet.  She contributed by adapting and writing a script that would work for our students to perform. All three of us sat down to discuss the script and with some tweaking, we all could envision instrumentation complimenting reader’s theater.  The strings teacher enlisted the help of an afterschool music program called Ubuntu and students were developing musical parts to the storyline. In the library, I allowed the fourth graders to pick parts and we read the script as a class. Some students who previously seemed not to take literature seriously participated and others who would have seemed shy read with such flavor.  I was so encouraged that we were on the right track.  Then COVID-19 ended our in-person school experience for the rest of the school year. The ESL teacher emailed the violin teacher and I and proposed to resume the program for the next school year’s Hispanic Heritage Program.

She kept her proposal. She moved the idea forward with directorial advice and visual art elements.  A new collaboration melded with two new teachers in music and violin. It bears to mention that the outgoing violin teacher advocated with the principal for a virtual program focusing on fourth and fifth graders inclusive of violin.  The video and audio recording of the show was accomplished by the teachers.  The fact that the virtual show came together without a professional videographer speaks to the creative insight and experience of the arts teachers at our school. 

For the production in the new school year, we solicited student musicians (some playing keyboards and drums at school for the first time); violinist (some reading music and playing new tunes for the first time); readers (some speaking in character for the first time); actors (some performing in scenes for the first time); and dancers (some moving on stage like never before).  In Media class, I shared the audio CD theater version of Martina, the Beautiful Cockroach from Carmen Agra Deedy with students and the book hit circulation records. The high level of engagement, enthusiasm, willing participation, and conveyance of the story proved to me the influence of good literature.

Want To Play A Game?

Colleen Dixon, Media Specialist, Mountain View Elementary 

Playing games is something I have always enjoyed doing. I remember asking for specific board games as gifts for various birthdays, including Probe, Inner Circle, and Star Wars Escape from Death Star! When we lost pieces to some of our games my siblings and I would make up new rules and continue playing the games.  

Fast forward to December 2019, my first year as the media specialist at my school, and I used my love of games to create a STEM project for my 4th graders. We read and discussed Board Game Builder: Milton Bradley by Lee Slater. Next, the students formed small groups to create a new board game! The students needed to make a list of possible ideas, create the rules of play and build a prototype. We used various toys, recyclables, and pieces of games purchased from thrift stores and donated by families. One of my students discovered that the game Inner Circle was donated and was only missing one playing piece! I explained to the students that I loved the game when I was their age and they quickly wanted to learn how to play and agreed we should keep the game intact. Once I started playing the game with the students our conversations focused on strategies and the need to try to anticipate your opponents’ next move! For the remainder of the day, I kept going back to those powerful conversations while we were playing the game and thinking about how exciting it would be to add board games to our media center collection. 

I began looking into grants so that I could add 75-100 games to our media center collection. I wanted these games to be available for teachers and students to check out for classroom use but also for students to check out for playing at home with family and friends! 

In May of 2020 I was awarded a $1500 grant to start a game collection! Even though this project came to fruition during a pandemic we still allowed games to be checked out for home use. During the 2020-2021 school year games were available for check out in September, October, November, March, and April but we quarantined games for a week upon return. During the current school year games have been available for check out since the second week of school. Students and families have enjoyed learning new games together. Several students have shared that they loved a particular game so much that they asked their family to buy the game so they could always play it! Parents have commented that their children don’t even realize they are practicing reading or math skills!  

Playing games provides an engaging way for children to practice reading, math, and problem solving skills. Children also learn to take turns, develop teamwork skills and learn coping skills (when they win or lose). Playing games together as a family can provide a relaxing environment to engage in conversations. My goal was to support student learning through engaging games that integrate reading, math, and/or problem solving skills through fun!  

Of course I have learned a few things along the way. Games available in tins instead of cardboard boxes are worth the added expense! Gorilla Tape is awesome for reinforcing the corners of boxes to help the box last longer. I now use extra-long rubber bands on each game to try to minimize spillage of game pieces if the box is dropped. Additionally, I learned that cap erasers make perfect substitutes for missing playing pieces in games like Trouble, Sorry and similar games. Lastly, I learned some games can’t survive the constant assembly and disassembly through check-out. For example, Flying Marbles is an incredible game that incorporates force and motion, math, and engineering, however, the box is an integral part of the game and was becoming ragged. To sustain the life of Flying Marbles and a few other games I moved those items to in-school use only. 

Encourage problem solving skills, cooperation, and conversations by building a collection that includes games!  

A very happy student enjoying a game and also practicing math facts!

Part of the orginal start of the games collection thanks to a grant!

Additional games to add to the collection!

Look What I Brought Home From The NCSLMA Virtual Conference: The Tissue Box Challenge

Jane Hudson, Media Coordinator

Charles E. Boger Elementary School, Cabarrus County Schools

I am so glad I attended the Virtual Conference.  I am still watching videos and learning new ideas for my students and staff at Charles E. Boger Elementary School.  Oftentimes when we attend a conference we are on information-overload. We get back to school and do not review the notes we took.   Thankfully this time, I was fortunate enough to hear my Colleague, Heather Shulman share her Conference Presentation with us in our CCS District Media PLC.   Not sure just why but the Tissue Box Challenge stood out to me.  The idea was shared as a whole school project and I just knew this was not a good time for that at my school since we had other things going on.  So, I thought what a great way for the students trying out for the Elementary Battle of the Books Team to showcase what they knew from one of the books they read.  The idea grew from there!

 I had 19 students trying out for the team and they were thrilled about the project.  It was optional but all 19 decorated a Tissue Box based on an EBOB book they had read.  I knew I was going to have staff members judge the tissue boxes so I thought it would be good for each child to get to explain what was on their box.  There was not enough time for them to miss class for the judging, so I came up with another idea. The next step involved me videotaping each child sharing about their creation.  Then I created /QR codes and the judges were able to see the Box and hear and watch the explanation whenever they came to the media center.

 The students had gone above my expectations, and I was really impressed with the details they put into the tissue box as well as what all they shared in the short video.

All the judges said it was tough to choose but we did recognized 1st – 3rd place and an Honorable mention.  These 4 winners chose a paperback book for their prize.

This is just one of the great ideas I brought home from the conference, and I am so glad we can still view the recordings and I can discover more. 

 The final EBOB Team has been chosen and now they want to explore more creative ways to share these great books they are reading.  Thanks, NCSLMA Board and Thanks to Heather Shulman and the many other great presenters. Enjoy the pictures I have attached.

LAUNC-CH Conference Proposals

The Library Association at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (LAUNC-CH) Conference Committee invites you to submit a proposal for the virtual LAUNC-CH Conference, scheduled for Monday, March 14, 2022. Registration fees for this year's conference have been waived.   

The 2022 conference theme is:   

Great Expectations: Building Unity and Strengthening Community with keynote speaker Sofia Leung.

The conference committee is calling for presentations, workshops, and posters that examine how we approach expectations of ourselves, our work, and our coworkers in a hybrid world. Tell us about your successes and failures so that we can learn from one another. 

We are particularly interested in 20 or 40-minute presentations and workshops that cover:     

·        Creating new expectations for ourselves, our work, and our coworkers  

·        Reinventing ourselves and how we do our work - being proactive instead of reactive 

·        Rethinking our definitions of productivity 

·        Unity: How do we maintain connections in a hybrid work life? How do we build community in and outside of work in this hybrid time? 

·        Work-life balance strategies 

·        Best practices for work from home while setting boundaries 

·        Advocating for workplace culture that supports mental health, belonging, and flexible ways of working  

We also invite posters that feature research or work related to the conference theme.   

Please submit your presentations, workshops, or poster proposals at: go.unc.edu/2022LAUNCCHproposal  

If you have any questions, or if you’re wondering whether your topic fits the conference theme, please contact Alison Barnett: ammurray@email.unc.edu.     

Preference for presentations, workshops, and posters will be given to proposals that match the conference theme, although other topics will be considered. We welcome proposals from library employees at and beyond UNC-Chapel Hill. We strongly encourage submissions from public libraries, special libraries, and academic institutions outside of the Triangle.  

Please submit proposals by January 6, 2022.  

LAUNC-CH is committed to making this conference accessible for all attendees. Once we accept a proposal, we’ll ask that all presentation materials (slides, documents, images, etc.) meet WCAG accessibility standards. For best results, provide material in Word or PowerPoint, utilizing the accessibility checkers and correction tools those applications provide. For guidance please visit: https://digitalaccessibility.unc.edu/resources/documents/. A conference liaison will be on call to help you if you need assistance.  

We look forward to hearing from you. More details on the 2022 LAUNC-CH conference will be posted to the LAUNC-CH website in the coming weeks: http://launcch.web.unc.edu/

Contribute to the next NCSLMA News & Notes!

We want to hear from you! Do you have an upcoming multi-school or district event, were you recognized in some way, are you involved in the coolest collaboration, or did you contribute in some other spectacular way that shows the value of school libraries and librarians? We know you did! So we want to share the fabulous things school librarians are doing across the state! Please submit links to articles, published materials, and/or graphics to Kenisha Smith (kenishasmith@ncslma.org). Materials should be "copy and paste" ready. Submissions will be edited and published at the discretion of the NCSLMA News & Updates Editorial Team.

Submission Guidelines Document


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Would you like to contribute to the next NCSLMA News & Notes?

We want to hear from you! Do you have an upcoming multi-school or district event, were you recognized in some way, are you involved in the coolest collaboration, or did you contribute in some other spectacular way that shows the value of school libraries and librarians? We know you did! So we want to share the fabulous things school librarians are doing across the state! Please submit links to articles, published materials, and/or graphics to Kenisha Smith (kenishasmith@ncslma.org). Materials should be "copy and paste" ready. Submissions will be edited and published at the discretion of the NCSLMA News & Updates Editorial Team.

Submission Guidelines Document

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