Saluting our educators

EAST GREENWICH- After 20 years of dedicated work to East Greenwich Schools, Archie R. Cole Middle School Librarian Phyllis Humphrey has been named District Teacher of the Year.

On Sept. 24, Humphrey, along with other Rhode Island educators were honored in Providence by the Rhode Island Department of Education as part of a “Saluting Educators” ceremony for all the district teachers of the year.

Humphrey has been at Cole for six years, and after over 20 years total as a librarian she has faced multiple changes as her job title evolved from”librarian” to “library media specialist”, but her love of the students and what she does has remained the same.

“I love my job,” she said. “I love the kids, I love working with them, they get excited easily. I have people who just come and hang out and help and volunteer, or who just like to be in the library. It’s exciting to see them get excited about learning and what we have to offer.”

Although the technological advances have played a big part in the job changes, Humphrey also helped to advocate for other changes throughout her time in East Greenwich, including the switch from part-time librarians, to having a full-time librarian in every school.

“The changes are leaps and bounds,” she said.

After the change to full-time, Humphrey also advocated to change the way librarians taught and were involved in the curriculum.

“We went from what is referred to as a ‘fixed schedule’ where the librarians would teach classes all day, to a ‘flexible schedule’ where you teach classes in collaboration with classroom teachers, based on the instruction that they need at the time,” she said, adding that being able to teach along with the curriculum has made students more interested.

“It isn’t until you really need the information that you pay attention, so that was basically our argument to the school committee and they bought into it, which is great,” she continued. “Now we have gone from a part-time librarian, to a full-time librarian, to a librarian who is a collaborator who works in conjunction with the teachers preparing instruction based on what is needed.”

As for how she’s kept up with the advancing technology during her career, she says it’s all about taking the initiative to learn.

“Technology certainly put a big change on how we instruct students,” said Humphrey. “Even basic things like searching and locating books to actually using technology and the applications that go with it.”

Humphrey played a part in applying for the funds to get a 3-D printer for the school, and has learned to embrace technology in the library, and continue to learn about it.

“You take the initiative and figure it out,” she said, adding that she participates in many opportunities for professional development in the library community. In addition, Humphrey said she attends several webinars and conferences to stay up-to-date and informed on the technological advances that can be used as her job transforms from “librarian” to “library media specialist.”

“There are a lot of things that are offered because everyone wants to learn what they can do with technology now,” she said.

Humphrey is now included in the pool of educators from which the state teacher of the year will be chosen next year, and the school committee plans to honor her achievement during a future meeting.

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