Media specialist aims to get kids excited about reading

For our first media Monday in two weeks, why not a media specialist whose passion is getting kids excited about books. Enjoy!

She’s been a music teacher, taught at a treatment program for kids, worked at an outdoor camp for troubled teens, and was a houseparent at a group home for abused girls in New Hampshire.

But for the last eight years, Elizabeth MacEwan-Zdrodowski found her niche at Glades Central High School in Belle Glade as the dedicated media specialist who will do whatever it takes to get teens excited about reading.

“When you work in a school with a very low level of reading proficiency, one of the biggest challenges is dealing with reluctant readers,” MacEwan-Zdrodowski said. “Students may come to your school with a negative predisposition towards libraries. It’s imperative to create an environment where students feel welcome, loved and safe.”

MacEwan-Zdrodowski, 37, has been an educator since 2003 for the School District of Palm Beach County.

Her goals are to build a lifelong love of reading, teach research skills, help students master technology, and encourage creativity. “But first, you have to build relationships,” she said.

MacEwan-Zdrodowski, the immediate past president of the Florida Association for Media in Education, is the Glades Central full-time librarian. She also teaches social media as an elective, administers the school’s iPad project, has created an Apple lab for project-based learning and a Maker Space for student expression, and uses Cranium CoRE to teach reading comprehension.

The Royal Palm Beach resident has been active in the Educational Media Association and was president for 2014-2015. She’s a member of Team TLC, an organization that mentors library media specialists as well as several professional organizations.

But she’s most proud of the dynamic guest speaker experiences she’s brought her students, including visits with authors Sharon Draper, Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Paul Griffin and Jason Reynolds.

“One of the most profound experiences was having Mr. Norman Frajman, a Holocaust survivor, speak to students on Holocaust Remembrance Day,” MacEwan-Zdrodowski said. “These special events enrich their lives and not only encourage a love for reading, but help them become better people.”

As a member of the Florida Teens Read committee, she’s read hundreds of young adult novels in the past four years. She writes poetry and is working on a young adult novel. She hopes to develop her writing through critique groups and conferences, such as those offered by Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

As far as her primary role at Glades Central, she’s looking forward to completing the library remodelling that has been granted by Superintendent Robert Avossa (one of only five schools chosen for this honor).

“Working with the students at GCHS is a privilege,” MacEwan-Zdrodowski said. “They are the best kids in the world. I have experienced some negative and biased opinions about the Glades over the last eight years, and it is a source of sadness. The truth is, if people knew how amazing my students were, they’d be begging for my job.”

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