Principal honored for seeing beyond the books

May 19, 1994|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Sun Staff Writer

To Larry Campbell, a school library is more than a room full of books, where the children are mum and the librarian stern.

"Even the word 'librarian' is out of date," the Benfield Elementary School principal said yesterday. "They are called media specialists now because their jobs have changed so much and include many other things besides just books. There are computers, videos, films and other technological resources that they are responsible for."

His vision of a library as the "hub" of school activity and his support for it have earned him the first Jane Hazelton Love Award from the Educational Media Association of Anne Arundel County. The award is named after the well-respected county school librarian who died in 1987.

Last night, Dr. Campbell was honored by the 70-member association with a plaque at a dinner at the Rustic Inn in Annapolis.

"Dr. Campbell has always treated me as a professional," said Donna Arenth, the media specialist who nominated him for the award.

"The principal may not understand the role of the media specialist or the media center. He [Dr. Campbell] sees this as a resource to the students and the teachers," Ms. Arenth said.

Dr. Campbell, a Grasonville resident, was chosen from a list of five county elementary school principals who were nominated by their media specialists.

"All of the nominees were outstanding," said Michele Tyrrell, president of the association. "But he really seemed to be on target with a lot of the issues today."

Dr. Campbell, 46, instituted a program this year at Benfield Elementary called flex time, which ties classroom work to library resources.

Instead of having students use the library at regularly scheduled days during the week, he allows teachers to plan a lesson, work with Ms. Arenth to find what library materials are available and then bring the class to the library. "It's really more structured time for the students' specific lessons," he said.

Dr. Campbell, who has been with the school system for 25 years, also helped a group of media specialists design a research project which found a relationship between a well-equipped media center and higher scores on state-wide tests given to students, he said.

"It's not so much what he found out, but that he thought to do it," Ms. Tyrrell said.

Dr. Campbell's goal is to teach children to be critical thinkers. "I want them to be life-long learners," he said. "Media centers enrich the students' lives."

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