Let’s celebrate our reader leaders

Readers are leaders and April is the month we celebrate our district’s literacy leaders, our awesome APS Media Specialists!  I LOVE to read, I mean I really, really, really love reading and learning new things, so I’m excited to salute the very employees who foster that same love for the written word in our students.

Atlanta Public Schools is celebrating Library Month during the month of April as recognized by the American Association of School Librarians. National School Library Month is a time to honor school librarians and highlights the essential role strong school library programs play in transforming learning.

“Resource-rich school libraries and credentialed librarians play key roles in promoting both information literacy and reading,” says our APS Media Services Coordinator Warren Goetzel.

We have 84 media specialists in APS and Warren not only manages them, but also coordinates district wide media and literacy events such as the Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl, the Accelerated Reader program and the Georgia Student Media Festival. He believes that when school libraries are staffed by qualified professionals who are trained to collaborate with teachers and engage students meaningfully with information that matters in the real world, school libraries become sophisticated 21st-century learning environments that offer equal opportunities for achievement to all students.

“I am exceptionally proud of all the remarkable contributions APS media specialists make towards increasing student achievement, says Goetzel. “Our media specialists do a phenomenal job at making sure APS school media programs provide a diverse array of services and resources for the benefit of our students, teachers, and the entire learning community. “

Please join me in recognizing just a few of the many talented individuals from our Media Services Department who support APS, allowing the district to fulfill its mission to help every student graduate college and career ready.


Ms. Twana Cannon has always had a love for reading since she was a young girl growing up in the rural town of Inman, South Carolina. “I was actually a part of a Reading Bowl Team in the second grade,” she remembers.

Graduating from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, her initial intent was to become a high school English teacher. When she entered graduate school she decided to switch gears and study Library Science.  She completed her Masters in Library Science with a concentration in school media at Clark Atlanta University in 2000.  She has worked as a media clerk at Tri Cities High School and a Public Librarian and Branch Manager at Atlanta-Fulton County Library for 13 years.  She is now in her third year as an APS media specialist.

Ms. Cannon loves exposing children to the joy of reading and connecting her community to resources. “I love the freedom to create an environment that foster’s learning and achievement, said Cannon.

She feels that libraries are important, because they are heart and soul of a school and the community and provide access to information and the digital world.

Favorite Book: Children’s Book- Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor.  Adult Book- Indigo by Beverly Jenkins.

Interesting Fact: I can pretty much name any tune from the 80’s if challenged to a game of “Name That Tune.”

Quote: “Once you learn to read you will be forever free” – Fredrick Douglass

Born and raised in LaGrange, Georgia, Ms. Kriste Stargell attended Clark Atlanta Ms  Stargell Media Specialist1 (2)University where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Marketing.  She received her master’s degree in Business Education, her specialist degree in Instructional Technology and media training from the University of West Georgia.

Before becoming an elementary media specialist, Kristen taught high school Business Education for 10 years in APS. She has been with APS for a total of 15 years, five as a media specialist, and was voted as the 2014-2015 Teacher of The Year for Beecher Hills Elementary School.

What she loves most about her job is seeing how excited students are when checking out books. She is motivated by seeing children develop a love for reading like she did as a child. “I still have a love for reading as an adult and I want children to share in my love for books and reading,” said Stargell.

“Children can dream through books and find their passion through reading,” said Stargell.

Favorite Book:   “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt.

Interesting fact: I love to watch college football!  It is the best time of the year!

Quote: “ If you want your life to be more rewarding, you have to change the way you think.”- Oprah Winfrey

Originally from San Antonio Texas, Ms. Christine Tigue received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Texas State University and completed her graduate studies at Georgia State University. She has worked in education for 16 years.

tigueMs. Tigue started out as a third grade teacher at Indian Creek Elementary School in Clarkston, GA. Most of her students were refugees from war-stricken countries. We had students from Bosnia, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Sudan, Somalia, and many more countries,” shared Tigue.

After two years of teaching third graders she has spent the last 14 years as a school media specialist at the high school and elementary levels. Her past schools include Henderson Mill Elementary, College Park Elementary, and Stone Mountain High School.

She is in her first year at APS as the media specialist for Hope-Hill Elementary.

Ms. Tigue says that what she loves most about her job is getting books in the hands of children and seeing them enjoy reading. She’s motivated by seeing students’ excitement over a book they’ve completed.

“Libraries are more than places that just house books,” said Tigue. “Libraries are a special place where students discover their best friends, exotic places, and can go on a great adventure.”

Favorite Book: That is like asking a mother who is her favorite child.  Some of my favorites are “Esperanza’s Rising” by Pam Munoz Ryan, “Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch” by Eileen Spinelli, “A Light in the Attic” by Shel Siverstien, and “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak.

Interesting Fact: Most days I commute to work by bicycle.

Quote: “The library card is a passport to wonders and miracles, glimpses into other lives, religions, experiences, the hopes and dreams and strivings of ALL human beings, and it is this passport that opens our eyes and hearts to the world beyond our front doors, that is one of our best hopes against tyranny, xenophobia, hopelessness, despair, anarchy, and ignorance.” –Libba Bray

Be sure to join APS this week in honoring the important work of all of our school media specialists!



My Visit with the Beecher Bees

I spent time Friday at Beecher Hills Elementary School, an IB Primary Years Programme neighborhood school with 360 students in grades PK-5 that feeds into J.C. Young Middle School and Mays High School.  The school has a great sense of community. It sits on the Atlanta Beltline and the staff likes to walk on the path together to IMG_1157stay fit.  Principal Crystal Jones, who also grew up and attended school in the Mays cluster, and has served Beecher as a teacher and administrator, led my tour.  IMG_1230




My first classroom stop was to see Kristie Stargell, the school’s Teacher of the Year and its media specialist.  The Beecher Hills library received a makeover in 2009 from our friends at Heart of America and Target and it still looks really sharp! IMG_1220

Over in Ms. Brown’s first grade class, students were learning about senses and descriptive language.  In Ms. Fowler’s class they were on their feet, experiencing a hands on wind energy lesson in science.  I sat in on the 3rd grade team IB planning period with teachers. The IB model requires additional, rigorous classroom certification by teachers and Beecher Hills received its certification in 2011.   IMG_1217

Principal Jones expressed a strong desire to seek IB certification for the entire cluster.  Currently, students who receive instruction under the IB model at both Beecher Hills and Deerwood elementary schools (Therrell High School cluster) have no IB continuum at their cluster middle or high schools.  We also talked about how the district’s new charter model requires aggressive parent involvement at all levels, a trait also found in the IB model.  I’ll be looking into the whether there is an appetite by parents in both of these clusters for this certification.

IMG_1239On my way out of the building, I noticed a colorful bulletin board created by the school’s PTA.  The theme, “Have a ball with the PTA,” was supported by cute gumball machines containing one gumball for each parent in each classroom who joined the PTA.  I love it!  It’s the most creative display of parental involvement I’ve seen on my school tours.  Keep up the great work Beecher Hills; this is a dynamic small neighborhood school with really big ideas.


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