PUT YOUR DIRECTOR TO WORK DAY: Director takes on role of Learning Commons Specialist at Good Shepherd CES

man reading to students

Feb. 21, 2019

Director of Education Michael Nasello held circle time, led some rich discussions on the theme of Black History Month and managed the ins and outs of incoming and outgoing books, iPads and Chromebooks as he took over the busy role of learning commons specialist at Good Shepherd Catholic Elementary School in Courtice on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

This is the third year in a row that Nasello has taken over a position in the Board as part of the annual Put Your Director to Work Day fundraiser for the United Way. In 2016, Nasello took on the role of EA at St. Paul CES Lakefield. Last year, he was thrust into the heart of the Board’s busy IT department, overseeing the IT Helpdesk at the Catholic Education Centre.

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In addition to raising funds for a good cause, the annual initiative also aims to highlight different roles and positions within the Board.

This year, learning commons specialist Ruth Teeninga, who has been in her position for three years, was the lucky winner. Teeninga received a paid day off and left a day-plan for Nasello to follow.

“My role is to support the students and staff by ensuring that we have materials that are engaging and that support our curriculum. I also support staff and students by helping them to access information in multiple forms and I instruct staff and students in how to access different forms of information,” Teeninga explained. “I promote literacy by reading engaging books to students, and in helping students find books that they will find interesting, and engaging at their reading level.”

woman standing with a group of children

Ruth Teeninga is the learning commons specialist at Good Shepherd CES in Courtice. She was the winner of this year’s Put Your Director to Work Day initiative.

Nasello welcomed a steady stream of class visits from kindergarten to Grade 8.

“The best part has been working with the kids,” Nasello said. “It’s interesting because I started with Grade 6s and then had to shift gears to Grade 2 and I spend most of my time normally working with adults, so I really had to shift my communication style and just change my language and adapt it to their understanding, but it has been working. I’ve had some really rich conversations with students at all grade levels.”

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A lot has changed in the library in recent years and the role of a learning commons specialist (formerly referred to as librarian) continues to be in transition.

“I’ve heard people say, ‘why do we need libraries and librarians, since we can find everything we want on the internet?’ I believe that libraries and librarians are more important than ever these days. Library professionals help people find accurate, and reliable sources of information, and they teach people to use a critical eye when looking at information,” Teeninga said. “The role of the librarian has always been to help people access information, and to support literacy, and life-long learning. What has changed is how people access information, and the proliferation of false information has blossomed because of the vastness and complexity of the internet.”

Looking back on his time as an educator and principal, Nasello said the library has changed considerably.

“My memory of library was silence. You didn’t talk. Now there is constructive conversation going on, focused learning on projects and inquiries. I think today it’s much more engaging, it’s a hub of technology, it’s not as static,” he said.

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This year’s Put Your Director to Work Day fundraiser was tied to payroll deductions. Every employee who committed at least $1 per pay to their school United Way Campaign was automatically entered into the draw. This year, PVNC staff combined to contribute more than $65,000 to the four area United Way organizations in our jurisdiction – Peterborough & District, Northumberland, Kawartha Lakes and Durham Region.