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Middle Ridge Elementary School media specialist Tammy Privette is Newton County School System’s (NCSS) 2015 Media Specialist of the Year. Privette will now represent Newton County Schools in the South Metro District Library Media Specialist of the Year competition, part of the Georgia Library Media Specialist of the Year program. 

“I am both excited and honored to be selected as the NCSS Media Specialist of the Year,” said Privette. “NCSS has one of the best Media Programs that I have been privileged to work with.  I have some amazing role models within the county and am humbled to have been selected by them for this honor.”

Privette, South Salem Elementary School’s Ginger O’Neal, and Indian Creek Middle School’s Lori McGovern were this year’s school district finalists, having been chosen by their peers during a selection process. Each of the three finalists then submitted essay packets that were reviewed by a panel of judges. Essays were judged on the following criteria: leadership role through staff development, committee involvement, or professional advocacy; involvement in professional organizations; promotion of information technology utilization and literacy; promotion of reading and literature; involving parents and/or the community in the library media program as partners; working collaboratively with the educators in your building; innovative techniques used in your library media program; and deliberate and ongoing professional development as a learner which is relevant to media services.

After scoring the essays, the judges then interviewed each finalist.  Privette had the highest combined score and was announced the winner.

Winning Media Specialist of the Year is incredibly special for Privette, when you consider she didn’t initially set out to be a school media specialist.

“I actually didn't choose the profession, it chose me,” she said. “I applied to the Georgia State University Master's program because I thought Instructional Technology sounded like something I would really enjoy.  A few weeks after being accepted into the program, the media specialist where I worked (Cowan Road Elementary in Spalding County) resigned.  My principal offered me the position. She thought I had the right personality and enough technology skills for the job.  At that point, I only knew that they checked out books and read stories.  As I began my master's program and this new position simultaneously, I fell in love with the job.  I have always seen the media center as a great big classroom with more kids and more books.  I thoroughly love creating a learning atmosphere that both students and teachers are excited to visit.”

Privette added that the school media specialist is an important position that can truly contribute to both effective teaching and student achievement.

“The school media specialist contributes to effective teaching in two ways,” she explained. “First, collaboration with classroom teachers is imperative.  Through collaboratively planned lessons and activities, the media specialist can assure that what is being taught is exactly what each set of students need.  Secondly, engaging in instruction is paramount to student learning.  By using a center-based approach coupled with short mini-lessons, students are excited about the choices they get to make.  All learning activities in my media center are either technology based or hands-on.  They all involve communication, collaboration, or creation.  Effective teaching insures student achievement.  When students are excited and engaged in meaningful activities, they will achieve.  This is evidenced in my media center by a yearly increase in circulation and lessons taught, and by improved reading scores.”

 “Tammy goes above and beyond the call of duty daily,” said Middle Ridge principal Dr. Michael Forehand. “She is a true collaborator-working side-by-side with classroom teachers to integrate technology and research skills across the curriculum.  Her work ethic exemplifies her title ‘Media Specialist.’  She truly specializes in all forms of media and she is a master at leading others in designing engaging student work.  We are proud of Tammy’s accomplishments and we are proud that she is a Mustang!”

“Ms. Privette has been an outstanding addition to our Media Program,” added Dr. Gary Shattuck, NCSS Director of Technology and Media Services. “Even though she is relatively new to Newton County, (she was hired in 2012) her contributions to the students and teachers of Middle Ridge Elementary School have been extraordinary. In addition, her enthusiasm and innovative practices have raised the level of professionalism in the entire Media Program.”