Give Back Thursdays —

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By — Mia Parada

This year has shown to be a year to remember, not only are we in the midst of a pandemic, we are also seeing a boiling point for human rights in America. With all of the challenges, we are seeing more people step forward to help their fellow community members in numerous ways. So the focus here is to take a closer look at those members of our community who are helping in extraordinary ways, giving a shout out to those who are doing their part to make a difference in these challenging times. 

This week The Pack is focusing on a familiar name: Mary Pelicano, librarian at Tuscarora High School. Pelicano has been a familiar face at Tuscarora High School since 2011. However this year she has taken up the challenges of online learning and what ideas students have had about the library. Students are used to seeing the library in person; however, with ongoing challenges this is not possible. Students are learning that the library can also translate over the screen and so do the resources that come along with them. With new obstacles comes new opportunities and the library is taking that motto in full swing. 

When asked, how the library and Pelicano specifically is helping students in new ways, never seen in Tuscarora before she stated,  “As a school librarian, I am committed to making sure students have access to the resources they need to be successful.  During a normal school year, that would mean providing books and materials, instruction on how to access the databases or evaluate appropriate websites, and information literacy skills to complete research assignments.  Librarians also encourage a love of reading and promote an appreciation for literature.  During the pandemic, we continue to do all of these things but in a very different way.  For example, we have a google meet that is available Tuesday-Friday for students to “drop in” during their study hall or lunch time for help with finding resources or getting advice on what books to read.  We have expanded or eBook collection, which is available through MackinVia, and tried to encourage students to check out titles from that platform.  We are in the process of creating  a Schoology group that is available to students that includes instructional videos, links to helpful websites, book club discussions, and MakerSpace activities, and more.  We also use social media, including FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram to try to help students stay engaged with what we are doing in the library.”

Not only is Pelicano helping everyone herself, but the library has started many different programs to inspire students to read and to learn more. “There is a Book Request form that students can complete to request a book from the library.  If we have the book in our collection, we will check it out to them and they can pick it up curbside on Mondays between 10am and 12pm.  We have also been working with the English teachers and other staff to get students the books they need for other classes.  As I mentioned above, there are eBooks available through MackinVia, as well as databases for research and the Schoology group for other library resources.” 

Pelicano says that when it comes to helping our other members of the community, it’s incredibly important. “I think the best thing we can do is remember that we are all in this together and we will get through it together.  We need to be gentle with ourselves and each other, remembering that we are all facing a variety of challenges that we may not be equipped to manage. We all need a hug right now, but we can’t give them, and we can’t get them.  That’s why it is so important to reach out to each other any way we can, even virtually, to let others know we care.”

“I would like to suggest to students to be more engaged during their synchronous instruction time.  I know it’s weird, but it’s weird for the teachers, too, and it would mean so much to all of us to see the smiling faces of our students on our computer screens!  We really do miss you, and until we are back in the building together, we need to know that we are connecting to our students.” Says Pelicano when asked about why we should continue to fight together during this dark time.