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Chesterfield Elementary Names Librarian 2011 Teacher of the Year

This is the first year that librarians have been eligible for selection in the annual program.

Chesterfield Elementary School's 2011 Teacher of the Year is a teacher of a different sort. Pat Sainz is the librarian at the school.

"I am pleased that teachers value the work I do with the students. The honor is motivational for me. It means teachers feel I fulfill a need for their students and in the classroom," Sainz said.

She was a high school teacher at the beginning of her career. She then taught middle school, and when her daughters were young, she worked as a preschool teacher. As her children got older, Sainz earned her library certification.

Sainz integrates library skills into classroom lessons, so she's teaching at the point of need. For example, if a class is working on a research unit, Sainz will teach the students how to use the library's database resources, books and other research material.

"Studies have shown that library skills taught in isolation aren't effective," Sainz said. "My work relates to what teachers are doing in their classrooms." 

"She is an incredible librarian," Principal Jodi Davidson said. "Pat is an organizer. She organized a group of fifth-grade students who videotape and read morning announcements." 

"That's my 'media team,' " Sainz said, laughing. 

Sainz uses many methods to encourage students to read. She started a fourth-grade Boys' Book Club, which began with eight students and now boasts 28 regular members. Sainz said she wants her students to read for pleasure, but nine- and 10-year-old boys often stop reading for fun. It's a skill Sainz said should be modeled by parents. 

"But if boys see dad reading for pleasure, children will take up a book for pleasure. They'll become good readers," Sainz said. 

Sainz recently organized an evening read-in. Students heard an author talk about the process of writing books. The girls listened to a reading of Purplicious and had their nails painted purple, of course. She didn't forget the boys in the room. They listened to poetry about basketball and then headed to the gym for a game of hoops. 

Sainz also displays books that relate to classroom lessons. She said the books are often snapped up before the morning is over. Introducing new books to teachers and students is one of the many pleasures in Sainz's job, she said.

"Teachers don't often have the extra time to research new books. I do the research and offer books that relate to lessons," Sainz said.

Sainz said there are many aspects of her job that she enjoys. Reading time with the younger students allows her to introduce new books. Kids come into the library all day long, and she gets to know the students and their reading preferences. 

"We have an excellent, current library. We have an amazing PTO committee that arranges for library volunteers. In a library which circulates about 1,000 books per week, volunteers are a blessing. And, I have a great library supporter in Ms. Davidson," Sainz said. "I work in a great environment with bright students. And I've been fortunate to love my job, always."

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