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‘It’s different every day’: Shiloh Middle School media specialist earns state honor

Holly Fuhrman, a media specialist at Shiloh Middle School, said it was a shock when her supervisor asked her to answer a few questions for a librarian of the month nomination.

She didn’t see it coming nor did she know how to highlight some of the work she’s done. She asked and received help from five colleagues to come up with a few paragraphs.

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“I do my best to make learning fun and engaging so that my students often don’t realize they are learning,” her submission read. “I promote our library through social media, and I offer students extracurricular activities like Makerspace experiences, the S.C.O.R.E. Challenge, and Locked into Reading.”

“In November, the newsletter came out and there I was,” Fuhrman said.

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Carroll County Public Schools announced this week that Fuhrman was named the Librarian of the Month for November by the Maryland Association of School Librarians. The Shiloh Middle media specialist said it was a career she fell into after a recommendation from a supervisor.

When she was in her third year of teaching reading to sixth graders at Sykesville Middle School, she took her students to the media center and spoke to them about books.

“My supervisor happened to be observing me that day,” she said.

Fuhrman recalled her supervisor telling her “you don’t belong in a classroom. You belong in a media center.”

The Hanover, Pennsylvania, resident said she wondered if she was that bad at being a reading teacher. But she looked into the field anyway.

Eighteen years and a few courses at McDaniel College later, she said she has no regrets about switching career paths. She is in her sixth year at Shiloh Middle and said it’s the best job in the building.

“I get to teach every student, work with every teacher,” she said. “And it’s different every day.”

Principal David Watkins said Fuhrman goes above and beyond of what’s expected of a media specialist.

“I think she’s outstanding,” he said. “She’s actually really deserving for the recognition.”

The media specialist was nominated as an outstanding teacher in the spring.

The principal said the recognition is a first for Shiloh and the school community is proud of her.

“Teachers and staff certainly rely on her work,” he said.

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Fuhrman said at the start of the pandemic and virtual learning, she became the “go-to” for troubleshooting Google Classroom and made sure staff had everything they needed. When schools were in hybrid, she said she was instrumental in setting up tech for simultaneous in-person and virtual instruction for classroom teachers. And she also visits virtual classrooms to talk about books, teach about finding sources and promotes the library on social media.

However, she misses the in-person library experience. Fuhrman said the pandemic “killed our circulation statistics.”

“Book selection has been difficult, I think that’s what’s been the most frustrating,” she said.

Though students still have access to e-books and online resources, Fuhrman and her colleagues wanted to get books back into the hands of students.

They organized a curbside drop-off where students can place a book on hold and arrange for it to be picked up on Monday or Thursday afternoon.

“It hasn’t taken off like we hoped,” she said.

But she still finds opportunities to speak to students about books in class, she said.

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