black eyed susan flowers in a bunchMaryland's Monthly Amazing School Librariansblack eyed susans in a bunch

Nominate yourself! Nominate a friend! Help us to celebrate the amazing school librarians around our state each month: Click Here for the Nomination Form 

December 2021


Pamela Rubisch
School Librarian
Rockland Woods Elementary
Washington County Public Schools

This is my 30th year as an elementary library media specialist, and I am always learning new educational techniques to implement with my students. Robotics, coding, and engineering are some of my passions that I pass on to my students through Spheros, Ozobots, VEX Robotics,, WeDo Lego kits, and a variety of building challenges. In our media center we build catapults, launchers, towers, bridges, things to hold up basketballs, and a blow up some stuff on occasion. Those are the days I love the best! Research is a key element to all that we build and do and we use databases like World Book Online, Pebble Go, and our Capstone library to dig deeper into everything we do. Also, sharing my passion for literature is never left out of our lessons, we always have a story that has to do with computational thinking, building mental fortitude, or just learning that failure is completely an option as long as we learn from our mistakes. Teaching has been my passion my whole career and I am blessed to say I was Washington County's first library media specialist who was a Teacher of the Year (2001) and was also honored by MICCA as and Outstanding Educator Using Technology (2007). And on the weekends I can be found out dancing with my dance group, Hub City Lindy Hop, sharing my passion for swing dancing with military veterans, businesses, and senior centers.
One of my favorite lessons happened last year after we had students return for instruction during the pandemic. My kids spirits were just flat, the pandemic had kind of crushed their sparkle. I thought that making putty from one of our great STEM books would perk them up. All the supplies were purchased, the lesson planned, and research completed. We started making the putty with shampoo, corn starch, water, glitter and food coloring. Well, the plan worked and my students hearts woke up as we were working, you could see their sparks igniting and their sparkle returning. There was so much laughter and giggles, and so many mistakes and messes, I simply could not count them all! After it was all over I stepped back and looked at my destroyed media center......corn starch everywhere, tables stained with food coloring, shampoo on the rug, and the glitter, oh the glitter, it was as if a sparkle bomb exploded....and I cried. Not tears of sadness or frustration or what, but it was my pure joy at what had happened with them and how a simple STEM lesson making putty had reignited their love for media and my passion for teaching. Just an amazing moment that I will never forget, just one of the best in my many years, and I won't soon forget it.

November 2021

Charlene Saint Jean


Charlene Saint - Jean
School Librarian
Cherokee Lane Elementary School
Prince George's County Public Schools

 I was born and raised in New York. I lived there all my life, until one wonderful day (10 years ago) I married my best friend-- Edmond Saint-Jean. Together my husband and I love to create music. I sing and he plays piano (My husband is a music and language teacher). I also love to cook, and I make short YouTube videos of me singing and cooking. I have been teaching for over 25 years. I have worked with high school aged students preparing them for the GED. In addition, I have helped these students prepare portfolios that would assist them with college and career. I am currently a media specialist for PG County Public Schools (grades K-6). Here I provide students with not just opportunities to read...but to explore and research. I am an advocate for expanding skill sets. So, in addition to literacy, I engage students in digital literacy and foundations of coding. I also make sure to bridge the GAP for my ESOL students with translations of books and that these students can still read and participate in class.

 My favorite library lesson is to teach with a combination of reading, research, movement, and Art.One year for black history month with my Kindergartners, first and second graders read a book about "Henry box Brown". We read the book together, did some structured research into who he was. I had the students act out the scenes to imagine what it would be like to be in the box ALL that way to get to freedom. Students had lively discussions about what it must have been like and how smart and brave Henry was to think of this. Finally, the students got a chance to create a box out of cardstock and retell the story to their classmates. For my older students grades 3-6 we read one year through "Separate is NOT equal". In this lesson we compared and contrasted the difference between this story and Brown vs Board of Education in 1954. Students pointed out some of the same key players in the 2 stories. The lively conversations that took place during this time. Students could not understand why they would treat a Latino family from Mexico this way. Why did they tell all those lies in court? However, they appreciated the fight, effort, bravery, and patience it took to go through this ordeal. These are just 2 of the many wonderful lessons I am privileged to do with my students. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!!!

October 2021

Mary Brooke Fitzpatrick

Mary Brook Fitzpatrick
School Librarian
Calvert County Public Schools

Mary Brooke is the school librarian at St. Leonard Elementary School in St. Leonard, Maryland. She is a National Board Certified and has served as a member at large for MASL and is currently serving on the communication committee for MASL.  

However, that's not all that makes Mary Booke amazing! Last year, Mary Brooke wrote a grant to purchase a large number of award winning, diverse titles that help her library to more fully represent her students. These books have made a significant, positive impact on her students this fall. They are flying off the shelves and students are excited to see themselves reflected on the covers and in the pages of so many new books available in the library. Mary Brooke is one of those people who truly can go with the flow. Her library is warm and inviting, and a place where students learn to love finding just the right book. As the specialist for school libraries in Calvert County, when I need someplace to go to decompress and to feel like all is right with the world, I head to Mary Brooke's library. It truly is a welcoming place.

My favorite lesson that I have seen in Mary Brooke's library has been every lesson she does with the Black Eyed Susan books! When read aloud - they come to life. A particular lesson that stands out is the lesson with the book from 2019 that was about germs: Do Not Lick This Book: It's Full of Germs. The students were entranced  - with her skillful telling it came to life!

September 2021

Jennifer Sturge
Library Supervisor
Calvert County Public Schools

This month MASL would like to shine the spotlight on our past president Jennifer Sturge.  Jen was recently named one of School Library Journal's Movers & Shakers

Her dedication, leadership, and library advocacy in Calvert County has also been acknowledged by AASL, identifying Calvert County Public Schools as the National School Library Program of the year.  Jen you are a rock star.

August 2021


Samantha Stitely
School Librarian 
Winfield Elementary School
Carroll County Public Schools 

My goal every year is to make the media center a friendly and inviting environment for my students. I’ve worked hard every year since I started 3 years ago to make books and resources easily accessible for my students, including moving bookshelves, separating sections that my students love checking out the most, and adding more computers as research resources. I’ve offered book clubs for my students so they can share their love of reading with other students. I also offered an independent research project for my 5th graders so they can practice researching skills and prepare for middle school. At the county level, I have helped write our library media curriculum as well as being on our media digital citizenship committee and plan to continue this year. The past two years I’ve been a part of reviewing quality literature for students to read and enjoy over the summer. Throughout the year I do several reading challenges for students to promote reading including a genre bucket of various titles, golden tickets for various books being checked out, and promoting the Black-Eyed Susan award. I read and share the Black-Eyed Susan nominations and do lessons with my students to share the importance of this award in the state of Maryland. 

July 2021
Peggy Demedis
School Librarian
Plum Point Elementary School 
Calvert County Public Schools
As I write this, my heart is full of joy in nominating Mrs. Peggy Demedis for the July MMASL. Peggy has been a school librarian for 42 years, and I know she would be a school librarian for 42 more if she could. Peggy is retiring this year and leaving Calvert County Public Schools a much happier, brighter, literate, place than what she found it. Over her career, she has touched the lives of countless young adults and children. Here's the thing about Peggy: she always learns new things. When we first started getting Smartboards in our district, was she nervous? Yes. Did she learn? HECK YEAH! When we developed our first library web pages, was she nervous? Yes. Did she learn? HECK YEAH! From card catalogs to Destiny collections, Peggy has taken in and learned it all. She exemplifies what it means to be a lifelong learner and a lifelong educator.  Peggy truly cares about her students and what it means to be a school librarian.  Sending her off into retirement as the MMASL for July 2021 is a fitting tribute to a lifelong librarian.

June 2021

Kristy Rubeck
School Librarian
Boonsboro Elementary School  
Washington County Public Schools
Kristy Rubeck works tirelessly to promote diverse and inclusive books in her school library and the larger library learning community. She is a master teacher, infusing technology, literature, STEM/STEAM, and the engineering and design process into engaging lessons that her students love. She is active in MASL as a book reviewer and has volunteered for the Children's Literature Centre at Frostburg State University for more than 20 years. Additionally, Kristy teaches as an adjunct professor for Wilson College, inspiring future teachers to love reading and children's literature. 
Mrs. Rubeck's favorite lessons are ones that incorporate all three aspects of being a Library/Media Specialist: literacy, research, and computational thinking. A great example of this was a two-week "Women in STEM" activity she just completed with 4th grade. Mrs. Rubeck began by reading "Margaret and the Moon" by Dean Robbins to introduce her students to computer science pioneer Margaret Hamilton. Students then used Pebble Go Next to further research Hamilton. Finally, students completed a STEM challenge of building their own lunar lander using a cup and six straws, which they tested to see if it would land upright. 

May 2021

Selene Athas
School Librarian
Holy Trinity: An Episcopal School
Prince George's County Public Schools
As a school librarian, I was at the forefront of virtual learning at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I immediately began sharing digital resources with teachers who were shifting to a virtual environment within days. Teachers were wondering how they were going to meet the needs of all students in this environment. I utilized my budget to purchase digital resources to ensure that teachers and students would have what they needed to be successful in the virtual environment.  I created tutorials on the resources and I met with students to teach them how to access and utilize our digital tools. Our school is a Pre-K-grade 8 school and the resources I chose were appropriate across the grades! 
In the fall, I collaborated with our faculty advisor of the National Junior Honor Society to raise funds for a special collection of books in our library. This section is to designed to promote racial equality and social justice. I developed a book list in collaboration with our NJHS sponsor and we raised $1,000 for this dedicated section. Because we are still virtual, I also purchased these same titles for our OverDrive/Sora e-book collection from my own library budget, so that students could read them from home. For Black History Month, we celebrated our Black/Brown Special collection with a virtual dedication ceremony.

April 2021


Niketha McKenzie
School Librarian
Cheltenham Youth Detention Center
Maryland State Department of Education
Niketha McKenzie currently serves as the School Librarian for Cheltenham Youth Detention Center. She has fifteen years of experience working in K12, public and academic libraries. She has a passion for library programming and engaging students in reading as a way of encouraging good decision-making. Her aspiration is to obtain a Ph.D. in Urban Leadership and Policy. She embraces the meaning of equity and inclusion in the Juvenile Justice System. She works tirelessly to make student feels safe and welcome in her library space. She is creative and has created many opportunities for her students including a Arts and Writing magazine, podcasting, a virtual library space. Librarians at JSES work under strict security restrictions, but she always finds a way to bring quality library instruction to her students. Finally, most of the JSES students are not regular readers. Niketha uses reading incentives, clubs, and building relationships as a way to make our students readers. In addition to her library space and building student trust, Niketha is a important part of our teacher network. She finds resources, helps to plan, and even co-teaches with the social studies team. She uses instructional technology to bring engagement to the virtual classroom. She has also been able to meet the digital literacy needs of our students by co-teaching a Media Literacy class. Finally, Niketha is a dynamic team member for the entire school. She has created resources and office hours to help students who need assistance navigating both the content and learning platform in the virtual learning space. She is often called upon to go above and beyond her librarian role and she always accepts the challenge with a smile and humor.
One of Niketha's favorite programs was a black history program focused on the theme The Great Migration: Movements in Black History. "This program was so special because the youth at Cheltenham researched and created a variety of different presentations in order to express what they learned about that period in history. Students were proud of their performances and enjoyed the work of their peers. The students were instrumental in facilitating the Black History Program and they showed that they could work together to accomplish a task. It was truly a beautiful experience to see youth people demonstrate excellence in spite of their circumstances".
One of her favorite quotes is “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.”-Marian Wright Edelman

March 2021

Randi Trzesinski & Katherine Florida
School Librarian
Oakland Mills High School
Howard County Public Schools


We have been working together for 6 years and have had a blast making the Media Center a welcoming and engaging place for our school community. We have found that our strengths complement each other and together we are able to make creative ideas come to life. We love collaborating with teachers in their classes and chatting with students when they pop into the Media Center. Working with our students is the absolute best part of the job. Randi is a National Honor Society sponsor, and Katie sponsors the Student Government Association. We make it a goal in every aspect of our Media program to make sure that students know they are valued, important, and that their voice matters. Digital literacy and technology skills have been an important aspect of our job for years, but particularly this year, our expertise in that area has been called on frequently. Randi has been keeping our staff supported with best digital practices and Katie has been working with ELL students, many of whom are new computer users. Bringing student attention to our digital collections has also been a priority.

While in this virtual environment, we have been highlighting that the library and "the stories" are still here for you. One of our favorite things has always been creating large book displays with eye-catching visuals. (See pics on Instagram @omhsmedia). We are working on maintaining that same level of creative reading promotion by starting a blog and making videos. We have been hyping up the books we have been reading on our blog and social media feeds to encourage students to continue finding solace and inspiration in reading. We highlighted books we read over the summer, and the ones we are most excited to read next. Through our "Just Finished" feature, we are sharing what we have just read with a little descriptive blurb. We are trying not to write too much, both to make it manageable for us and give our readers just a little snippet to grab their interest. We are planning to encourage students to share what they have “Just Finished” on social media and through a Flipgrid on our Media resources page.

February 2021

Jennifer Siderius 
School Librarian
New Market Elementary School
Frederick County Public Schools


I've been in love with libraries since I was a little girl. To me, libraries have always been a safe haven where I feel encouraged to grow as a learner. I became a clerk at my hometown public library on my 15th birthday and have worked in libraries ever since! This marks my 20th year as a school media specialist but my 27th year working in libraries! I kiddingly tell my husband that I'm not qualified to do any other job; but really, I can't imagine doing any other job. Libraries have grown and changed over the years and that change keeps me enthused! I love the ever changing feeling of libraries--new books, new technology, new ideas, and new classes every hour. It’s that change that leads me to pursue new goals, such as installing both Lego and green screen walls for my students, leading virtual family storytimes with diverse literature, obtaining and renewing my National Board Certification in Library Media and participating in FCPS’ Vanguard program for blended learning. I don't know that the word "amazing" applies to me. But the words enthusiastic, passionate, helpful and creative do apply to me. I want others, especially my staff and students, to also experience the feeling of libraries being safe havens where they can grow as learners. That’s why I take my skills and try to lead the way, doing things like teaching an MSDE course for teachers at my school called “Tech Tuesday”, mentoring media interns, having a Family Checkout Night to close out each school year, and obtaining a grant for STEM kits for preK-3rd grade students that accompany Black Eyed Susan Nominees. At the end of the day, I feel amazing as long as I have helped someone!

One of my favorite programs was a Boys Book Buying Club during the 2017-2018 year. During previous years, I genrefied our fiction and nonfiction collections. That process revealed gaps in our collection, including topics most appealing to our intermediate male students. As a media specialist, I believe that there are no such things as “boy books” or “girl books.” However, I couldn’t argue with circulation data and students’ opinions. Male students in our fifth grade classes became my most reluctant readers and I found myself admiring the forthright honesty of a student, who bluntly told me, “Mrs. Siderius, I can’t find anything good to read in realistic fiction that has a male main character. I want something other than sports!” His comment inspired me to assemble a Boys Book Buying Club. An application was distributed via Google Forms to all male fifth grade students. On the application, they listed their strengths so I could pull together a diverse group of students. The club collaborated on a survey to identify the reading interests of our fifth grade male students and then distributed the survey through Google Forms. Afterwards, the club met weekly with me to sort and prioritize the findings of the data. We sent our topics to the children’s book buyer at our local bookstore, The Curious Iguana. She booktalked titles to club members, which they then ranked in order of preference for our budget. After our order arrived, the boys loved introducing the new books to their classmates! This project was memorable to me for two reasons! One, it taught me the importance of books as windows and doors for students’ needs. Second, the students’ energy forced me to think in a different perspective. It makes me want to have more purchasing clubs in the future!