BCPS celebrates National School Library Month

Meet Melissa McLendon, library media specialist, Powhatan Elementary School

Meet Melissa McLendon, library media specialist, Powhatan Elementary School

Speaking from Powhatan Elementary School, library media specialist Melissa McLendon says, “I feel like I have found my niche, my place in the world.”

McLendon raves about the sense of family and the level of staff collaboration at Powhatan, and says that the students at her school look forward to coming to the school library.

“Students here read a lot,” McLendon says. “As much as they love technology, they also love a good book. They enjoy how tangible they are and that they can take them home and explore and reread them.”

As is true of so many library media specialists, McLendon grew up in love with reading and libraries, but became a teacher first.

“I always had a passion for books,” McLendon says. “Reading has taught me so much about life and the world. As a child, I remember going to the public library and the school library. I enjoyed the librarians reading to us and being able to check out books and explore different types of literature and different subjects.”

Growing up in Maryland, McLendon came from a home where reading was valued, and she had several family members who were educators.

“One was a special aunt, someone who was especially near and dear to me,” McLendon says. “She didn’t live in Maryland, but I spent many summer months with her, and one of my favorite activities was when she let me help her prepare her classroom for the upcoming school year. She always motivated and inspired me, and she is a big part of why I became an educator.”

McLendon earned her bachelor’s degree at Coppin State University and a master’s degree at Goucher College. She is now completing a master’s in library media science at Towson University.

Before joining Team BCPS, McLendon taught elementary school in another school district. Initially, upon joining Baltimore County Public Schools, McLendon taught Grade 4 at Edmondson Heights Elementary School. She is now in her second year as Powhatan’s library media specialist.

“Outside of school, a lot of people don’t know that library media specialists are teachers,” McLendon says. “They don’t know that the library is an extension of the regular classroom. We are teachers, too, and we have a curriculum that we follow with students. In our lessons and with other teachers, we work to facilitate engaging, accessible, relevant instruction.”

Recently, for example, McLendon worked with Grade 3 teachers as their students completed research projects on topics such as the development of the automobile, camera, and telephone. “It was a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with the teachers and to build on what they were doing in the classroom.”

Beyond her work with classes and teachers, McLendon is proud that her library is a place where students come on their own. “Some students come in the morning, afternoon, or during lunch,” McLendon says. “Sometimes they just need a break or a calm place to sit and read a book.”

McLendon looks forward to building on her students’ interest through the establishment of book clubs and book talks.

Now that she’s found her place in the world in her library, she wants to be sure that is a welcoming place for every student, so that they will grow to love reading and learning as much as she does.

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