Since I work as a School Library Media Specialist, or teacher/librarian, I was curious to see the library facilities at the Science Leadership Academy (SLA) in Philadelphia.
At first glance, the collection looks meager, the resources limited. There are some standard reference works, popular fiction, magazines. As I found out though, through chatting with students and by observing the dynamics of the SLA learning environment, looks can be deceiving.
The Science Leadership Academy advocates "Project Based Assessment." Emphasis, in every subject area, is on independent study aimed at the achievement of certain benchmarks. Each student has a laptop with building-wide wireless access. Students can, and do, stay beyond regular school hours, only leaving when the doors are locked for the day at around 6 p.m.
Library instruction takes place during a mandatory technology course in grade 9 and is also embedded in core subjects. Students learn how to use databases, evaluate websites, practice good cyber citizenship - all the skills necessary to be a competent, self-directed learner. There are both organized and informal trips to the public library as well.
In the normal course of things, the librarian would be a key collaborator with other faculty members. The position is temporarily being filled by a substitute, due to the illness of the former librarian. Principal Chris Lehmann assured me that, although Pennsylvania schools are not required by law to have a librarian, the city of Philadelphia strongly supports school libraries. Interviews for a new SLA librarian were set to begin today.
Each classroom and hallway at the Science Leadership Academy displays the school's Core Values:
The title of this posting could refer to the Library as a part or subset of the SLA. I prefer to think of SLA and the Library as being synonymous.
"If a man empties his purse into his head no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest." -Benjamin Franklin