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 SDCOE Helps Prepare Library Paraprofessionals

The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) is helping to prepare library paraprofessionals through a unique eight-week course that focuses on the skills needed to boost student achievement with a well-run library.

So far, about 300 people from across the state have taken the Instructional Media Resource Associate courses, which emphasize library leadership, state standards, web tools, and model library structures.

“There’s so much information out there, and we put it all in one place,” said Lesley Kelsey, the recently retired director of Library Media Services for SDCOE.

Most school libraries are led by paraprofessionals who aren’t credentialed teachers or librarians. Even so, there’s isn’t much professional development available for these employees.

The SDCOE Library Media Services unit started the Instructional Media Resource Associate certificate course of study three years ago to fill that gap. It’s the only statewide program for intensive professional development for these employees. It features one day of face-to-face instruction and eight weeks of facilitated online learning.

“We are going away from this course with a better understanding of our potential and that of our library program,” said Cyndie Idemoto-Reyes, who works at Northwood Elementary School in San Jose and recently graduated from the course.

Another graduate of the program, Erica Leggette, was recently elected to the board of the California School Library Association. She is the first paraprofessional to represent the association on the board.

The next cohort of the program is scheduled to start Oct. 1. Registration information is available on the SDCOE website.