Media specialist grabs state award with story-time lessons.

Because of her passion for books, Kristie Michalowski takes J.C. Magill Elementary students sailing the seven seas to a fantasy world of ships, treasures, and pirates. With the help of real-life parrots Purl and Bruiser, this media specialist turns into a pirate during her "How I Became a Pirate" story-time lessons.

Her enthusiasm for the sharing and reading of books earned her the "2008 Intellectual Freedom Award" presented by the Georgia Library Media Association. The state-level award recognizes the contributions of a school library media specialist who has affirmed in an active way the rights of students to information and ideas furthering the cause of intellectual and academic freedom.

"The best part of the job is sharing books with teachers and students," Michalowski said. "Sharing and reading are integral parts of teaching and learning and just plain enjoyable. Where else could one teach while reading and have this much fun with their job?"

Her "How I Became a Pirate" story time has become a student favorite. The students take the role of the "crew" and read along using their pirate voices.

In addition to being a student-centered media specialist, Ms. Michalowski shares her knowledge and skills with other staff members and with media specialists from across the county during staff development sessions. She provides book strategies to colleagues and collaborates with teachers on book choices for projects or to support the curriculum.

GLMA is the largest professional organization serving school library media professionals in Georgia. Its members are dedicated to the advancement and empowerment of school library media specialists and to quality education in Georgia's schools. GLMA is an affiliate of the International Society for Technology in Education and the American Association of School Libraries, a division of the American Library Association.

Michalowski will be recognized at the state library annual conference in the fall.

Gwinnett team one of the best of the 'Roadeo'

Gwinnett County Public Schools' focus on training and preparation recently earned school district two awards in the area of student transportation safety.

The special needs transportation team of Robert Bodemuller and Debra Allen placed first in the state during the Georgia Special Needs School Bus Competition "Roadeo." When they moved on to compete at the National Special Needs Team Safety Competition "Roadeo," they finished in sixth place.

Both events serve as additional training, improving the skills school bus drivers need to perform their daily task of transporting students with special needs.

Participation in these events allow special needs school bus drivers to gain experience and expertise in how to deal with behavior while driving, how to secure wheelchairs and car seats in the safest way and how to evacuate the special needs bus in the event of an emergency, as well as other events to train and better prepare the drivers and monitors who may be transporting special needs students.

GAC students score top points in international competition

A group of sixth-grade students from Greater Atlanta Christian School recently placed in the top 15 percent during the spring competition of the Knowledge Master Open, a computer-based semiannual worldwide academic competition in which teams of students from many schools earn points by answering multiple-choice questions quickly and accurately.

The competition consisted of 100 questions from 15 subject areas: American history, world history, government, recent events, economics and law, geography, literature, English, math, physical science, biology, earth science, health and psychology, fine arts and trivia.

The No. 1 U.S. team from Plymouth, Minn., scored 874 points. The GAC sixth-grade team was not far behind with a posted score of 714 points.

GAC defeated all the sixth-grade teams from Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wyoming and international teams from Indonesia, Korea and Singapore

The team also defeated most of the teams in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin and all but one of the teams from Alabama, Florida and Missouri.

In Georgia, the GAC team posted the fourth best score of all of the teams in the state.

Members of the tournament team are as follows: Justin Mercado (tournament captain), Matthew Connel, Sander Schirer, Lilly Simpson, Jamisha Patel, Megan Boyd and Lisa Jemmings. Other members of the academic team this year are Ben Hensley, Brianna Cummings, Sam Weyen, Paige Reynolds, Mary Johnson, Harrisen Schneider, Shaffer Patrick and Andrew Scialabba. The group is coached by Mr. Adams.

Parkview teams place second in economics competition

Two teams of students from Parkview High School placed second last month in both the Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate and the College Prep divisions of the Georgia Economics Challenge state competition.

The teams, coached by economics teacher Gary Petmecky, were among 18 teams from high schools across Georgia who competed in the second annual Economics Challenge, sponsored by the Georgia Council on Economic Education and hosted by Georgia Public Broadcasting.

The competition consisted of four rounds, three of which required teams of four students to answer rigorous questions on microeconomics, macroeconomics and international economics. The fourth and final round of the competition was conducted in an oral quiz-bowl format that was taped in Georgia Public Broadcasting's studio. The teams of students competed in either the David Ricardo Division (college prep students) or the Adam Smith Division (Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate students).

Parkview's Alex Hagiopol was the highest individual scorer in the David Ricardo Division.

Last year, two teams of Parkview students, also coached by Petmecky, went on to the regional finals in Minneapolis.

North Georgia senior to perform voice recital

Ashley Wilson, a soprano, will present her senior voice recital at 3 p.m. April 20 in Gloria Shott Performance Hall on the campus of North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega.

She will perform selections by G. F. Handel, Gabriel Faure, Giovanni Sgambati, Franz Schubert, Franco Leoni, Richard Strauss and Richard Rodgers. The recital is free, and a reception will follow the presentation.

Wilson, accompanied by her voice teacher Mary Beth Hutcheson, is a graduate of North Gwinnett High School.

Heather Darenberg writes about education. More Good News From Schools appears online on Mondays.