Photo by Brian Giandelone
SUWANEE -- Suzanne Skeen was teaching a lesson Tuesday when she learned she had been selected as Gwinnett County's Media Specialist of the Year.
She realized she won the award when members of Gwinnett County Public Schools' central office walked into Parsons Elementary School's media center with balloons and flowers.
"I'm very surprised," said Skeen, who helped open Parsons seven years ago. "It's quite an honor to be nominated and to be chosen for this award."
Faye Curlee, the school system's director of media services and technology training, said it was hard to judge the applications this year because so many of the nominees are innovative in their use of technology and the way they promote literature.
"Suzanne's uniqueness in the way she promotes literature and her use of technology to help teachers is what brought her to the forefront," Curlee said. "She's exactly what we want in a media specialist, because she really does collaborate with teachers."
In fact, before she became a media specialist 10 years ago, Skeen was a teacher.
"Teaching is my passion, so to be able to combine that with reading ... I'm able to combine everything that I really love," Skeen said of her decision to become a media specialist.
Every year, Skeen writes her own reading program. She incorporates the program with the school's theme for the year. This year's theme is space, so the reading program focuses on students traveling to different planets. Students can purchase more rocket fuel based on the number of minutes they have read. At the end of the year, the class with the most reading minutes will get to name a star.
The reading program also incorporates other curricular areas, such as math, science and geography.
"Reading is the passport to the world," Skeen said. "It's the passport to everything. If you can read, you can pretty much be successful. We want (students) to be lifelong readers and learners."
Parsons Elementary principal Charlotte Sadler said Skeen is "really amazing."
"I've never seen a media specialist like her," Sadler said. "She's very much an instructional media specialist."