Running The Media Center With Mrs. D’Alexander And Mrs. Smith

The Woodland media center, a bustling place where almost everyone has been, is used for many purposes like homework, entertainment, and even studying. Whether students need a lesson for their English class or resources for their history essay, the media center provides everything they could ever need. Although, not every student knows what happens behind the scenes.

Working behind the curtain to maintain the organization held by Woodlands media center is Jodie D’Alexander and Kathryn Smith. Currently, the main librarians at Woodland Regional High School, they strive to keep the media center a lively place for all students. 

D’Alexander has been working at Woodland for four years, since she joined the hawks family during the summer of 2016 which was her first high school experience. 

“Prior to Woodland, all my experiences were at the elementary level,” said D’Alexander,  “And I don’t ever want to go back. I love how independent they are and the work that I’m doing with high school students. I never would have envisioned from college that this is where I would be and this is what I’d be doing.”

Always by D’Alexander’s side is Smith, who has been a part of Woodland’s staff since the day that the school opened 19 years ago. 

“The school was opening while I lived in Beacon Falls and I had a huge love for books, so it was just a natural fit for me. I applied and got the job which brought me here today,” said Smith. 

Surrounded by nonstop commotion, D’Alexander and Smith are constantly organizing the encited chaos created by the media center. 

“I don’t really know what direction my day will take,” said D’Alexander. “My day is always very unpredictable. To a degree, I know what classes are coming in, but I never fully know what’s going to happen next and I like that.”

Both Smith and D’Alexander have a hectic schedule that’s always changing, so they’ve developed a profound ability to multitask.

Creative thinking is required to keep the media center lively and interesting with all the different tasks at hand, so D’Alexander frequently bounces off ideas with Smith. In addition to Smith’s help, D’Alexander is a part of a group called Casl, the Connecticut Association for School Librarians. Together, the librarians communicate with each other very often to share ideas that they can use for their students and schools. She also follows other librarians’ Instagram accounts and is even on Twitter. 

“Social media has really helped to brainstorm ideas for our media center,” said D’Alexander. “I share my ideas with teachers and different departments as well.”

Some of the actions and ideas that D’Alexander and Smith have come up with to keep the media center active include lessons, Schoology posts, community puzzles, the Makerspace, new display cases, Chromebook care, new books, and much more. 

Almost every freshman English class has been in the media center at least once for a lesson,  taught by D’Alexander using the TV that is visible to all the tables within the media center. At the beginning of the year, D’Alexander brings freshmen into the media center to give them an orientation about everything the media center offers. This helps them better understand all of the resources that they have available to them. 

“I’m basically a support person to all of the teachers, because whatever they need I can help to provide within the media center and can give them lessons that fit them,” said D’Alexander. “I try to imbed technology, research, citation, or whatever their needs are so that I can help our students be better 2020 students, since it’s no longer the time of looking something up in the encyclopedia.”

Not too far from the TV is the community puzzle, which holds a spot in the back of the media center. The community puzzle is available to any student that wants to participate and the idea behind it is that students have something to do and can come together to complete the task of finishing giant puzzles. Whenever a puzzle is done, D’Alexander normally makes a post on Schoology to let all the students know. Then, she brings in a new puzzle for everyone to finish. 

Puzzles and friendship bracelets have been a part of kids’ lives since childhood, so D’Alexander decided to bring that into the media center. Her inspiration was that friendship bracelets and VSCO girls have recently become intertwined and she wanted to entice kids into having fun at the tables. Many students have made bracelets using the string provided and given them to other friends, teachers or students to make their day. 

Aside from just bracelets, Woodland’s media center is in charge of many different aspects within its walls, but some of that spills out into the hallways as well. The display cases that hold many different decorations outside of the media center are created by Smith and D’Alexander. 

“We keep a lot of items, whether we find them around the house or get them from other events, just in case we need them for something,” said Smith.

These items can be seen sometimes in their display cases, which change themes often. During the month which E3 conference was held, they even had a full display case which showed many things about E3 for all students to see. This provides students with constant news through visuals that they can see while passing by daily. 

Chromebooks are also a part of every student’s daily lives and D’Alexander and Smith both help to provide students with chromebooks and help them take care of them as well. Their first method is loaner chromebooks, which students use when they have forgotten their own at home or have their chromebooks die at some point throughout the day and need another one. There is also a charging station that students can use at any point during the week. There are 20 slots available for students to charge their chromebooks and at almost all times, at least six slots are full.

As if documenting chromebooks was not enough, D’Alexander and Smith also have an online catalog for the media center’s books. They have to develop a record for each book, which involves not only the title and author, but also a quick summary and tag words that makes it easier to find books with keywords. Once they develop that online record, there are different physical labels that they use to shelve it in the right spot. The media center has an area for fiction and non-fiction, for which they use a Dewey Decimal System to organize them very easily by number. 

Despite all of the hassle and hectic schedule that is involved with taking care of Woodland’s media center, D’Alexander and Smith both love working at Woodland. 

“I love working here. It’s the best job in the school. We get to learn so much about all the students since they come into the media center all of the time,” said Smith. “We don’t just see them in a classroom, we see them in study hall or just chatting, and we get to see all of the teachers as well.”

Many may not be able to handle the job and all it’s multi-tasking requirements, but D’Alexander and Smith both make it look easy. The media center, and Woodland, are both lucky to have D’Alexander and Smith by its side.