Before Grovetown High School opened last year, school Media Specialist Angela Dallis labored over the look for the media center.
In the end, she and Media Assistant Diana Newsome created a space that looked more like a bookstore coffee shop than a school library.
Dallis says those aesthetic decisions have made the media center popular with students, and she partially credits it for her selection as the Columbia County school system's Media Specialist of the Year.
She was recognized during the county's Teacher of the Year banquet Thursday at West Lake Country Club.
"We wanted this (the media center) to be a very inviting place for students," Dallis said.
Though perhaps just slightly larger than other high school media centers in the county, Grovetown High's library, by Dallis' design, seems much more open and friendly with computers resting on high-top tables, a couch and comfortable seats adjacent to a large bay window, and bookshelves extending from the walls, not cluttered in the middle of the room.
"We want students to enjoy reading, and part of that is giving them a space that makes them comfortable and where they feel welcome," Dallis said.
The longtime media specialist's plan might have worked too well in some cases.
"We have a lot of students who spend their lunch hour here," she said. "Early on, we had some cases where students got in trouble for skipping classes to hang out in the library."
More than creating a stylish place to read, Dallis also focused on giving students books they wanted to read.
"Most of our book selection has come from student suggestions," she said. "I'm always looking out for what the students are interested in and trying to provide that for them.
"The ability to read well improves a student's performance in every subject. That ability only can be enhanced if they enjoy it."
Before she became Grovetown High's first media specialist, Dallis worked in the libraries at Harlem High and Greenbrier High.
Dallis started her education career as a first-grade teacher at Peter. H. Craig Elementary School in Richmond County, and became a media specialist 15 years ago at the same school.
When that school merged with Houghton Elementary School, Dallis took a job in the media center at Greenbrier High, where she first won Media Specialist of the Year.
"I don't know for sure, but I think it was (then Greenbrier High principal) Sandra Carraway that nominated me for Media Specialist of the Year," Dallis said. "I remember her telling me that in all the years she has served in a teaching position that I was the best librarian she ever worked with.
"That meant so much to me, for a teacher to feel like I supported her that way and made her job easier."
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