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National School Library of the Year Application 2021: Pandemic Response

This is the electronic portfolio for the National School Library of the Year application for 2021 for Calvert County Public Schools.

pandemic response

Pandemic Lesson Plan - Letter of Appreciation

national parkLaura and I enjoyed the National Park activity today.  Thank you for assigning an activity that is uplifting and fun to complete as a family.  I am also impressed, because what you assigned in part of my A.P. U.S. History curriculum.  You are providing the students with background knowledge that will help them with their future classes.  Plus, the students and parents are hopefully adding to their “bucket list” for future family vacations.

Thank you for all you do!

Have a nice weekend!

This spring and summer, the supervisors for the counties in Maryland worked on a document for the role of school librarians in a pandemic.  You can link to the document here.

CCPS utilized this document and helped to create the document recognizing the role the school librarians play in teaching and learning.  Below is an excerpt from the document.

Library Media Specialists are Teachers and Instructional Partners

As an educator and a collaborator, school librarians teach students to efficiently, effectively, and ethically access and utilize print and digital resources for lifelong learning in multiple literacies.  This instruction and collaboration must continue in all Maryland schools regardless of the learning environment. 

Library Media Specialists are Information Specialists

School librarians enrich the learning environment by expertly vetting and integrating approved innovative digital tools and sharing award-winning books through diverse collections. In addition, school librarians provide guidance on emergent issues including accessibility, privacy, digital ethics, and copyright. They are leaders in the creation of engaging lessons, leveraging their expertise to support staff and student success.

Library Media Programs Provide Unique Learning Environments

The library program fosters a safe, inviting, and inclusive community learning environment that promotes a culture of belonging. School librarians build virtual and physical spaces that enable students to access materials in multiple formats to meet diverse instructional and personal needs.  School libraries are dynamic learning environments that should remain functional in order to allow students to access the collection.

Library Media Programs Support Literacy and Student Achievement

A substantial body of research(1) finds that reading, writing, and graduation rates improve where schools employ certified school librarians. The benefits associated with effective school library programs are strongest for the most vulnerable and at-risk student groups.

Library Media Programs Foster Equity and Connections

School librarians maintain diverse collections by selecting literature that enables students to develop knowledge, share experiences and cultivate empathy. They guide students to consider multiple perspectives on global issues, historical injustices, and underrepresented voices.  School libraries offer spaces and resources that encourage a sense of belonging and support social and emotional learning. This is where students not only encounter a variety of voices, but also where they learn to use and share their own voice as both consumers and creators of content.


Maryland State Department of Education and Local School Systems. School Library Media Together. July 2020.

March - June 2020

book cell phone laptop1

Between March and June, our school librarians provided:

  • Professional development to teachers on all of our digital platforms.
  • Live and on demand webinars on our digital platforms.
  • Collaborative support for teachers on digital platforms.
  • Problem solving strategies to move forward in a digital environment.
  • Participated in their own professional development.
  • Met with administrators to be proactive in the role of the school librarian during the school closures.
  • Worked with librarians across the district in weekly meetings to ensure that all students were receiving high quality school library lessons and services despite the challenges we faced.

stronger together

We even published articles about what we learned, here are a few:

Grenier, Casey. "Covid 19 and the Need for School Librarians. Maryland Association of School Librarians. May 2020.

Mignardi, Donna, and Jennifer Sturge. "Welcome to School, I'm Your Zoombrarian." Programming Librarian. August 2020.

Mignardi, Donna, and Jennifer Sturge. "Distance Librarian-ing: The New School Library Normal." Programming Librarian. April 2020.

Sturge, Jennifer. "It's a Brand New World: Virtual School Librarianship and Leadership Support." School Library Connection, October 2020,

Sturge, Jennifer. "School Librarians and UDL in the Time of Learning from Home." Knowledge Quest. June 2020.

Sturge, Jennifer, and Donna Mignardi. "School Library Instruction and Services: Our Roadmap during a Global Pandemic." School Library Connection, September 2020,


Summer 2020


Image: Pixabay. No attribution required. 

During the summer, CCPS school librarians worked to create a plan for the fall of 2020 with remote learning.  We met during the summer to revise and replan curriculum so that we could prepare for teaching remotely and supporting teachers.  We brainstormed ways to promote reading and literacy while teaching from our homes.  School librarians created book lists for purchase on Sora.  We promoted reading through socially distanced scavenger hunts, and free little libraries set up in the district.  We engaged with our public library to promote our joint summer reading program through beanstack. Finally, we collaborated with our content areas to create bingo boards for summer fun and learning for the younger grades.  

Fall 2020 and Beyond...

fall leaves

As we started our year virtually, CCPS school librarians provided professional development for teachers prior to the students coming back to school virtually.  We worked with teachers on using Teams, integrating Schoology, teaching about SORA and Capstone Connect (ebook platforms). We collaborated with each other to check in and make sure everyone was doing well and staying healthy.

When students began virtually, middle and high school librarians devised new ways of providing library orientations to students in collaboration with teachers.  Teachers saw this opportunity as extremely valuable in the virtual environment and were incredibly supportive.  CCPS school librarians attended professional learning community meetings and worked with English teachers to create unique ways of moving forward with book clubs during an all virtual fall.  Middle and high school librarians have been busier than ever - supporting, collaborating, and engaging!

In the elementary grades, students in K-5 started virtually.  Elementary school librarians were able to meet with each class for 30 minutes once a week for a virtual lesson.  As we brought K-2 students back into the classroom, elementary school librarians made the incredible shift to teaching concurrently, with half their K-2 students in the library and half at home.  They also assisted with the technology set up for classroom teachers and became additional impromptu tech gurus - all while maintaining a virtual presence for grades 3-5.


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