As a 20 year veteran at Atholton and recent winner of the HCPSS “Work Hard, Be Kind” award, Ms. Koehnlein can only be described as a Media Center master. In light of her upcoming retirement next fall, we decided to ask her some questions.
Gisele: How did you get into becoming a school media center specialist?
Ms. Koehnlein: I’m actually media para now.
Gisele: What does that mean?
Ms. Koehnlein: A paraeducator- I started out where I was in the front office as a front office secretary. And then I transferred back here as a media secretary. So, I’m kind of the support person for the media center.
Gisele: What made you want to do that- what made that happen? It’s an interesting transition.
Ms. Koehnlein: It was. It was completely different from being in the front office. Back here, I think you have a different relationship with the students, and you see different things in the front office as opposed to here. Here, you know, it’s just ‘we’re here for service, we’re here to help out, and I’m here to support everybody’.
Gisele: What do you think is the importance of having a school media center?
Ms. Koehnlein: I think that books are really important. I think the media specialists are so important in instruction and helping the student’s research papers. I just think it’s a good place for people to feel safe and comfortable in and read!
Gisele: Do you think students really fully take advantage of having a media center?
Ms. Koehnlein: I think definitely. Definitely, they do.
Gisele: What do you think your biggest accomplishment has been in your career as a media center person?
Ms. Koehnlein: I think the best part of my job is being here to support the kids and to help them with… I mean, as simple as making copies for them is, or helping them find a book, or helping them find databases. You know, I just feel like it’s… it makes me feel really good about being here.
I mean, as simple as making copies for them is, or helping them find a book, or helping them find databases. You know, I just feel like it’s… it makes me feel really good about being here.
Gisele: That’s a really good transition into the award you got, the Work Hard Be Kind Award. So how did you first find out that you won it?
Ms. Koehnlein: They walked into the media center. I was sitting down, and they said ‘can you come around here- you’ve won this award, Work Hard Be Kind.’ I was very emotional.
Gisele: What was your first thought when that happened?
Ms. Koehnlein: My first thought was ‘oh my gosh, there are so many other people who are more deserving.’ And how touched I was that there were so many people that wrote nice things about me and it’ll be nice to be remembered, that I was a nice person, and leave Atholton [that way].
Gisele: Moving onto your retirement, which is coming up soon, what are you planning to do? Are you excited?
Ms. Koehnlein: I am excited. I’m looking forward to spending more time with my grandchildren, and…
Ms. Koehnlein: Read? I love to read- not have to plan time for reading. And I would like to take a couple of classes at HCC.
Gisele: Really? Which ones?
Ms. Koehnlein: My friend and I were talking about taking an art history class, so I think that would be fun.
Gisele: What do you think you’ve learned about education in your time here?
Ms. Koehnlein: That everybody’s different. And I think you have to deal with different people in different ways. With some people you have to be careful- you can’t be sarcastic with them. I think it’s just thinking about how to talk to people and how it comes across. You think about what’s coming out of your mouth before you speak so you don’t hurt any feelings.
Gisele: Off-handedly, is it hard getting up at five am every single day?
Ms. Koehnlein: We were talking about this yesterday, Ms. Kelly, Ms. Pilcher and I, and we were talking about alarms. I always wake up before my alarm. I know- I always wake up before my alarm. I don’t know why, but I do. And I feel better when I do. If my alarm goes off and I wake up, I panic. Usually, I’m up by quarter to five.
Gisele: What’s your biggest pet peeve been, with students. Because I know it gets really hectic here in the mornings.
Ms. Koehnlein: It does get hectic, but I like that. I love that the kids have a place to come. When I first started working at Atholton, there weren’t a lot of kids that came to the media center in the morning. We open at seven, and I love that they have a place to come instead of hanging somewhere outside on the corner. At least they feel comfortable to come in here, and relax and start their day on a happy note.