8 Questions with a Library Media Specialist

8 QUESTIONS is a series of interviews with teachers who have effectively transitioned their classroom skills into new and exciting careers in the field of education. We at Teach.com believe that teaching is a rigorous and diverse classroom in and of itself; the skills learned “in the trenches” can translate into an exciting portfolio of professional options. From education tech to consulting, the only “X factor” is where you want to go — our interviews hope to shine a light on the steps it takes to get there. 

1. What’s your name, location and current profession? 

Jo Nase. Newnan, Georgia. I am a School Library Media Specialist. 

2. Where did you earn your teaching certification and where did you go to school?

I received my undergraduate degree in Learning Foundations from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. I minored in Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies which afforded me the opportunity to write an undergraduate thesis, still one of my proudest achievements to date. In 2007, I received my Gifted endorsement and graduated with a Masters in Media in 2008 from the University of West Georgia.

3. How long were you a teacher for?

I was a classroom teacher for 8 years, 1 year in 5th grade, 1 year in kindergarten and 6 years in first grade. I then moved to an Instructional Technology position in a computer lab for 5 years, serving the entire school, K-5. I am now currently in my sixth year as school library media specialist for a PreK-5 school. 

4. What was the most rewarding part of being a classroom teacher? What about classroom teaching did you find most challenging? 

Being in the regular classroom, I was able to really get to know my students well. I knew their families and often had siblings from the same family year after year. I enjoyed going to sporting events of my students and having parents come in to share with the class. I loved celebrating their successes inside and outside of the classroom. Having that close connection to my students made behavior management better and helped engage students in the learning process because they knew I cared for them. Getting a hug at the end of the day, at the end of the year, or even a visit from a student, years later...that is priceless. I miss being able to have that kind of connection with my students now.

5. Why did you decide to transition from classroom teaching to your current profession?

My transition to my current position took place over several years. I first moved from the regular classroom to an Instructional Technology position in a computer lab after talking with my principal about needing a change. I felt like I just wasn’t enjoying being in the regular classroom as much as I had been, but wasn’t ready to completely leave teaching.

The Instructional Technology position allowed me to continue teaching, and as a bonus, I got to use technology every day. I was able to find fun ways to incorporate what students were learning in their regular classroom with what we were doing in Instructional Technology. It was my first real experience with collaborative planning with every grade level, and I found it very rewarding.

Over the course of the five years I was in that position, it was amazing to witness the progress of the students from year to year, something that I did not always get to experience in the regular classroom. About the second year into that job, my principal encouraged me to get my masters in either Instructional Technology or Media, as the computer lab position was paid with funds that were not guaranteed from year to year.

Having a degree in Instructional Technology or Media would allow me to pursue either a computer lab position in a middle school or a media specialist position in any of our system’s schools, should one of those jobs become available. After taking a few introductory classes for both degrees, I decided to go for Media. I found it was a good fit with my passion for teaching, technology, and my love of reading. 

6. What is the best part of your job? 

I love that I get to interact with every student in our school year after year. It is truly a joy to watch them grow and change during the elementary years. I also love that I get to share my passion for reading and technology with my students. I am always trying to bring in new and exciting things into our media center to engage our students and get them excited about learning.

7. What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel in your current profession?

My experience in the regular classroom gave me a good foundation for teaching. My style of classroom and behavior management today comes from my time in the regular classroom. I know the importance of having an established routine and set expectations which makes for a pleasant experience when any student or class comes into the media center.

However, it is also important to be flexible as the media specialist, as unpredictable things often come up every day. Being flexible is a critical part of any kind of teaching, but especially when you are teaching multiple grade levels and multiple classes in one day. And because I work with the entire school, my past experience with collaborative planning as well as teaching multiple grade levels has really come in handy. That collaboration gave me a good grasp of the K-5 curriculum which, in turn, helps me find interesting books to suggest to my patrons and topics for lessons which will directly connect with what’s taking place in their classrooms.

8. What advice would you offer a current teacher who is looking to make a career change to outside of the classroom?

If you are serious about leaving teaching, make sure to find something you really love. Do your research. If possible, see if you can visit someone in that field for the day to see what the job is like. If you can find a career that involves something you are passionate about, you will be happy no matter what you do.

Jo Nase, wife, mom, creative educator, lover of nature, books, memories, technology, crafts and lovely things, is currently serving as the enthusiastic Media Specialist at Moreland Elementary in Moreland, Georgia.

She has been a presenter at various educational and technology conferences where she shares her love of educational technology. She maintains the website A Teacher’s Bag of Tricks and enjoys blogging at The Book Bug as well as writing for other educational blogs and forums. She was named Teacher of the Year for her school in 2007. She is also currently serving as the Historian for the Georgia Chi chapter Alpha Delta Kappa, a national sorority for educators. She can be reached through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Google +.

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