My Turn: Beth Poole

“You can go anywhere, be anyone, and do anything when reading a book.”

Beth Poole, media tech, Church Creek Elementary and Fountain Green Elementary Schools, Harford County

In2000, my husband suddenly announced that he had been promoted and that we would need to move away from everything that we knew to start a new adventure. Once we were established with our boys in school and my husband at his new job, I was in a quandary about what to do.

The answer came when our neighborhood elementary school needed substitutes. I gave it a shot. Turns out I had a knack for it! The next year I was hired as an inclusion helper. My love for working with children grew with each passing year. My co-workers soon became my family and the students my kids.

My favorite place in the school has always been the library. I enjoyed working as a para, but I longed for the day that a job in the library would be available. In 2016, that day finally came. For years I helped teach children how to read, and now I can watch them use those skills. There is nothing like escaping into a book when you just need a break. I always tell the children that you can go anywhere, be anyone, and do anything when reading a book.

My dream was almost shattered last year when major cuts were made to the school media centers. Fifteen media tech positions were taken away, mostly affecting our elementary schools. The negative impact on this action has been huge. Media techs are now split between schools, which leaves schools without a tech several days a week. We can no longer be there to help students pick out books, help them with their work, help the librarian with lessons, or sit with our youngest and help them read.

Being a media tech is not just about reading. I organize shelves, take care of online records, run the circulation desk, process new materials, issue library cards, maintain office equipment, and help the students find, check out, and return materials. You could say that I am the grease between the gears of the library, keeping it running smoothly for all. I love it.

I am proud to represent our team of media technicians as a board member for our union, the Harford County Education Services Council. Our union is fighting for the media techs just like we’ve fought for paraeducators, secretaries, and inclusion helpers. We all work together to create an environment where everyone is treated fairly and with respect; that holds true as we face these damaging cuts. We support everything that is good and positive for our students, which is the reason we all work so hard.