The article Casting a Wide Net for Mentors appeared on the front page of Tuesday’s USA Today. (Here’s the link to the online version.)
The article begins:
Julia Albaugh’s high school in Van Meter, Iowa didn’t have a course that would teach her about marketing and public relations. So a librarian in the school helped her to expand her horizons—via Twitter.
Under the librarian’s supervision, Albaugh connected with Liz H. Kelly, a Santa Monica, Calif., author and marketing consultant who offered her career advice.
The piece goes on to quote Tom Whitby (St. Joseph College professor and co-creator of EdChat), and Burlington (MA) High School Principal, Patrick Larkin
The piece features of photo of and ends with a powerful quote from Will Richardson: I believe that the best teachers in (students’) lives are going to be the ones they find, not the ones given to them.
Tom and Patrick and Will are all educators I greatly admire.
And you know what?
I also admire Shannon McClintock Miller, the librarian who actually started it all. The educator who inspired Julia to make the connection with her new mentor, the educator who herself models–on a daily basis–the possibilities and the power of academic and professional networking building.
At the risk of being labeled oversensitive, I wonder:
Why would USA Today author Greg Toppo go to the trouble to track down those other experts and not bother to seek out the actual driving force behind so many of Van Meter’s learners’ new discoveries? Did he fail to understand Shannon’s (a librarian’s) significant role in the learning culture of her school?
So I contacted my good friend Shannon, a winner of this year’s Shorty Awards, and asked her to fill in with the rest of the story.
Julia was a student in my PLN class. Not only did we connect to the other half of our class at Bill Brannick’s school in Philadelphia (Monsignor Bonner High School), we also regularly use social media (Twitter, Facebook, Diigo, Skype, YouTube, Blogger, etc.) to connect to other educators and people using social media, creators of Web 2.0 tools, across the country.
After I won the Connecting People Shorty Award, Liz Kelly wrote an article (http://www.examiner.com/digital-entertainment-in-national/conan-o-brien-wins-top-twitter-award-at-2011-shorty-awards-tonight) about the Shorty’s and connected with me on Twitter. Because she worked with celebrities, reporting, and social media, I wanted to bring Liz into my PLN class and have her connect with our students. And I knew Julia, with her interest in marketing and social media, was the perfect fit. Liz Skyped with our PLN class. And Julia and the other students followed her on Twitter.
She’s the First—a social networking program supporting girls’ education in the developing world– is another great connection from the Shorty’s as well. An 8th grader here at Van Meter started the first She’s the First chapter in a high school and has so far raised $900 to support the education of a girl in Tansania.
And as I told the reporter, ALL of the students at Van Meter use social media. It is part of our K12 environment. Our teachers and students blog. We use Skype to bring authors, other students and teachers, and experts into our classrooms. We use Twitter and Facebook to communicate, connect and share projects and happenings.
Van Meter students have a global voice.
And it is their librarian who makes sure that voice is heard.