Find something you love, and you’ll never work a day – Shannon Hemmelgarn
Upon entering Upper Arlington’s Windermere Elementary Library and Media Center, we were immediately greeted with a symphony of young, excited voices and a flurry of activity. It was the library’s Maker Day, and students throughout the entire library were focused on designing, creating and solving.Maker Day occurs every week, and the students love it. Children partner with peers, work independently and collaborate with Librarian Shannon Hemmelgarn. During our visit, we witnessed the creation of a lightweight paper structure that could hold a hardcover book, the colorful build of a potential future home and the deliberate process of a MakerBot manufacturing Lego bricks. A plethora of materials with a mix of high and low tech are easily within reach of all students, making creativity fun and infectious. “We work to develop the whole child,” Shannon explained. By doing so, she and Windermere Elementary foster critical and design thinking in a welcoming environment. Literacy and research are the bedrock of the library. Shannon, Media Clerk Edie Hartmus and library volunteer staff partner with teachers to create customized resources, supporting lesson plans and exceptional educational outcomes. The collection of 14,000 books is augmented by author visits. Caldecott Medal recipient Paul Zelinksy visited the school system thanks in partnership to the Upper Arlington Schools PTO and the Upper Arlington Education Foundation. And the school is excited to welcome children’s lit-inspired musician Emily Arrow. Emily will be performing her songs with Windermere’s ukulele orchestra, which Shannon is a part of. Both visits demonstrate how art, music and literature co-exist and come alive at Windermere. Partnerships play an important role with Windermere’s library. Upper Arlington Public Library’s Sue Emrick actively collaborates with Shannon to create an informative newsletter, and the public library sends representatives to Windermere for summer reading and e-book initiatives. Shannon also partners with Windermere’s couselor on digital citizenship safety, other librarians in the district and Windermere’s administration to shape resource policies, like the district’s 1:1 laptop and tablet program. Shannon Hemmelgarn believes in the power of strong relationships. After joining Windermere in 2015 from a successful, 13-year teaching tenure at New Albany-Plain Local Schools, she quickly built rapport among peers and students by being a trusted partner and promoting all resources as open and flexible. She is the only teacher at the school who interacts with every one of the over 400 students every week, and she takes great pride in knowing each student. Shannon is excited to further support Windermere’s curriculum, expand the library’s makerspace, enhance the collection’s diversity and fulfill her commitment to the community. The Windermere Elementary Media Center is a phenomenon resource and a wonderful example of a fun, energizing and open environment.