by Steve Zalusky
Jamille Rogers not only serves the students who visit her library at Marguerite Vann Elementary School Conway, Arkansas. She gets to know them and encourages them to make the most of their potential.
Bobby Walker, school principal and her nominator for a 2016 I Love My Librarian Award, said, “Miss Rogers has excellent rapport with students and parents. As an administrator in a building with nearly 500 students, sometimes it’s a challenge to just remember all their names; much less be familiar with all of their interests and concerns. However … Miss Rogers uses the time in her library each week to not only provide meaningful instruction, but to also become familiar with her students.”
A prime example of her powerful motivation skills is the Distinguished Gentleman’s Club. Addressing low academic performance among the male students, Rogers and her fellow members in the Conway School District’s Closing the Achievement Gap Committee. Rogers worked alongside Walker, the Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students) program president, and a local men’s store owner to establish the Distinguished Gentleman’s Club.
With the motto of “Building leadership, values, and academics in young men,” the club offered an intervention and empowerment program for our male students in grades 2- 4. “We use a variety of character and leadership methods holistically integrated to change student’s attitudes toward learning and the overall school environment,” Walker said.
According to the Conway schools website, the students take place in leadership building activities and engage in conversations about having strong values and character. Each month they also take part in Dress for Success Day; a day when they get to wear professional clothing and ties to school.
Following the inaugural program, the nearly 120 program participants were recognized at an awards ceremony sponsored by Bell & Sward Gentlemen’s Clothier, with each student receiving a special lapel pin. “We enjoy supporting the local schools and are excited to be a part of this prestigious program.” said co-owner Erik Sward.
One student, third grader, Kaden F., said, “I like when we get to dress up. It makes me feel important; like I am the president!”
“In the Distinguished Gentleman’s Club we learned how to do a firm handshake and we learned how to open doors for other people because that’s what gentlemen do.” said fourth grader Ben O.
Other programs Rogers initiated and has overseen include the Partners in Education Program and the Project Based Learning Lab. She also serves as the school coordinator for the Arkansas Foster Grandparent Program, which allows retired, senior citizens to come in and volunteer at the school.
Rogers’ personal touch is displayed throughout the school year, Walker said. She starts the year with a student interest inventory, using the findings to structure her lessons, order materials, help students select books of interest, plan activities and learn about the students’ personalities. Walker said, “She strongly believes in the holistic approach when it comes to children and strives to make learning meaningful and fun. I think this has a lot to do with her being a former kindergarten teacher.”
She often interacts with the students outside the library, whether attending to an injured student or playing games with them at lunch break. In addition, Walker said, Rogers, as one of only two African American educators in her building, has a strong rapport and respect among the school’s minority families, adding, “Sometimes she is able to connect with them on a cultural level that I cannot.”
Rogers’ work benefits the entire school. She is the the school’s technology specialist. She has also initiated such programs as Partners in Education, which forges relationships with local business owners and professionals to provide support for students and staff. She organizes the school’s annual School Wide Community Day, to which community leaders and business professionals are invited to the school to share a story with the students, talk about their careers and meet faculty, staff and PTO representatives, as well as tour the school and share breakfast.
Walker said, “Through these partnerships we have been able to secure finances, technology items, instructional materials, and safety items to enrich our students’ learning experiences and enhance our school community,” including the MVTech Lab, the very first project based learning lab in our school district. – MVTech Lab.
“She organized a team of college student volunteers to help with the set-up of the facility over the summer of 2014. It is decked out with bright paint colors, modular furniture, student art work, and decorative curtains & lamps. The lab includes a class set of iPads with headphones, Chromebooks, a SMARTBoard, Projector and MAC Air computer,” Walker said.
In an interview conducted after she won the award, she said, "I absolutely love working with children. A big part of my job in the elementary library is to be the foundation for how kids are going to move up in the world and help them develop their skills for what they're going to be later in life."
Nominations are open through September 18 for the 2017 I Love My Librarian Award.
Sign up here to be notified about future I Love My Librarian Award activity.