More Than A Librarian.
St. Luke's: Tell me about yourself
Karrie Tillman: I grew up in Citronelle, a small town north of Mobile. As a young child, I recall going to the little public library with my mom on the weekends. We would check out a stack of books to take home and spend hours sitting together reading. I feel this is where my love of books and reading began.
In high school I was an athlete, Azalea Trail maid and graduated Salutatorian. I attended the University of South Alabama for my Bachelor in Elementary Education and graduated Summa Cum Laude. I married my husband Arnold, became a bonus mom to Trey, Alec and Annie and started my career as a 1st grade teacher at Castlen Elementary where I had student taught.
SL:   Tell us about your experience as a media specialist.
KT:   I taught at Castlen for 8 years. During this time I realized my passion for children’s literature. As a 1st grade teacher, I loved to see the excitement in my students as I read them a story. I hoped my next career path would lead me to work in a library.
While teaching I had three sons, Turner, Campbell and Conner. I returned to the University of South Alabama to earn my Master’s in Educational Media and finished with a 4.0 GPA.
In 2017, our son Turner was in the 3rd grade and was invited to play football with a friend at St. Luke’s (the same school his sister Annie had graduated from in 2015.) Our experience was awesome and soon our boys were asking to attend St. Luke’s. The following year God opened all the doors needed to lead our family to be Wildcats.
SL:   Most people have no idea what the daily activities of a school
librarian/media specialist look like. What’s a day in the life of your
position at SL?
KT:   Every day in the media center is different and exciting! I teach classes from K2-5th grade weekly. These classes include: read alouds, puppets, interactive Smart Board activities, hands on STEM activities and book checkout.
I also have Makerspace activities in the media center and enjoy that students have the flexibility to come get a new book when they are ready instead of having to wait for their class day. In an average month, I check out, check in and reshelve about 600 books on Japonica. I have also recently started crossing campuses to make book checkouts available to our Middle School students.
SL:   What is your vision for the school library?
KT:   My vision for the school library is for it to be the central hub on the campus. It is a place where both students and teachers can come to find books, activities and entertainment.
SL:   How do you promote reading?
KT:   I find that being positive about books and reading becomes contagious. Most students enjoy reading once they find the genre or author that interests them the most. I find joy in connecting students to a book that makes their eyes light up when they come back to tell me about it!
SL:   How do you integrate technology into your instruction?
KT:   Technology is used in the media center through computers, iPads, zSpace machines and the SMART board. We also code robots, record videos with the green screen and touch on video game making through Bloxels.
SL:   What is your collection development and maintenance strategy?
KT:   I start with a yearly inventory of the current collection and then run reports to give me more information about checkout statistics. I ask teachers for book suggestions to fit their curriculum but have found that the best resource I have are my students. They love to suggest books that they would like to have in their library!
SL:   What are your favorite children's books?
KT:   Oh gosh, I have so many! I am very fond of authors Laura Numeroff, Eric Carle and Leo Lionni. Their stories are classic and have stood the test of time. I also enjoy finding and sharing new books with students that help them relate to their current world, such as “My mask is not a slingshot.”
SL:   Explain how the school library can have a positive impact on student achievement.
KT:   Studies have shown that a student’s reading experience is the number one indicator for future success. While this may or may not be true, it cannot be ignored that books can increase vocabulary development, imagination and critical thinking skills. A school library that fosters a love of learning is sure to positively impact student achievement.