Above: Knox ES STEM Academy media specialist Leslie Hicks is interrupted during a technology lesson with the news that she is the CCSD 2022 Media Specialist of the Year! As part of Read Across America week, she was dressed as someone from a place she would like to visit (Paris, France in this case), as a nod to the Dr. Seuss book, 'Oh, The Places You'll Go!' Below: Celebrating the announcement are, from left, Principal Jennifer McIntosh, CCSD Digital Learning Supervisor Joy Silk, Ms. Hicks, Jason Blakey with Credit Union of Georgia, which sponsored the prizes awarded to Ms. Hicks; Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Hightower and CCSD Chief Academic Officer Dr. Nicole Holmes.
UPDATE 4/15/22: CCSD Media Specialist of the Year Leslie Hicks of Knox ES STEM Academy has been named the Region winner! Ms. Hicks, pictured at right as the surprise announcement is made, now advances to represent the region in the Georgia Library Media Association’s competition for Georgia Library Media Specialist of the Year. Congratulations!
You won’t hear “shhhhh” in Knox Elementary School STEM Academy’s media center.
The bright and cozy library buzzes with learning and fun under the leadership of media specialist Leslie Hicks, who today was named Cherokee County School District’s 2022 Media Specialist of the Year.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower made the surprise presentation to Ms. Hicks, who now advances to represent CCSD in the Regional competition, from which she could move on to the State contest.
“Leslie sparks joy among everyone near her and serves as a role model for her students and colleagues as to the value of lifelong learning,” Dr. Hightower said. “She has made the media center a hub for reading, learning and engagement. I most admire her dedication to building positive culture in her school and community through the media center and its many activities.”
As part of today’s celebration, Ms. Hicks was awarded an iPad tablet and plaque, with the costs sponsored by Credit Union of Georgia, a CCSD Partner. She also will be congratulated by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the March School Board meeting.
All CCSD school media specialists were eligible for the award, and Ms. Hicks was selected as the winner from a pool of outstanding nominees by a judging committee of retired educators and community leaders.
“The library is not just a place for books; it’s a place for learning!” Ms. Hicks said of her mission. “Fostering a positive environment is not only important to me within the media center, but schoolwide.”
Principal Jennifer McIntosh said Ms. Hicks embraces the role of the media center as the school’s “largest classroom” and its “heartbeat.”
“She creates an engaging environment for our students because she is dedicated to the mission of Knox to cultivate curiosity, critical thinking and create real-world connections,” she said. “She is a risk taker, trailblazer and innovator. Her enthusiasm for both books and learning is contagious.”
This week, the media center bursts with Dr. Seuss characters and colors in celebration of Read Across America week, one of the highlights of the year that brings community members into the school to join in special reading activities. Ms. Hicks today even was dressed as someone from a place she would like to visit (Paris, France in this case), as a nod to the Dr. Seuss book, "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" to celebrate Read Across America week. She also coordinates Read for the Record and World Read Aloud Day events with community partners, and invites children’s book authors and illustrators, both internationally renowned and local, to visit.
Ms. Hicks teaches classes lessons in how to use resources for research and best practices for digital citizenship and effective use of technology. She constructed a Lightbulb Lab Maker Space for students to explore STEAM concepts hands-on and produces a school podcast for families and the community.
This school year, she took on new goals including: helping all students earn Microsoft Kids certification by increasing their technology literacy skills, and promoting reading through Beanstack app reading challenges with incentives and rewards for dedicated readers.
Beyond the media center, Ms. Hicks influences practices districtwide by sharing her expertise, both from Knox and her previous work at Woodstock High School, through serving on district committees, developing district professional development and mentoring new media specialists. She further supports her colleagues at Knox by serving on numerous committees including the staff wellness committee as part of the #CCSDCares initiative.
Ms. Hicks earned her bachelor’s degree in education in 2007, followed by a master’s degree in instructional technology and a specialist in education degree. She is a certified media specialist and teacher, with credentials in numerous subjects, and has earned additional technology certifications including Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and Common Sense Media certified educator.
“I want teachers and students to feel supported and experience positive learning opportunities,” Ms. Hicks said. “That is my goal with lessons, displays and programs that I provide through the media center. I want to inspired students and teachers to be lifelong learners.”
Above: Students in the Knox ES STEM Academy media center break into smiles and applause when they hear their media specialist, Leslie Hicks, has been named best in the Cherokee County School District. Below: Ms. Hicks holds celebratory bouquets, one delivered by the Superintendent of Schools and one delivered by her family.
Above: Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower congratulates Knox ES STEM Academy media specialist Leslie Hicks as CCSD 2022 Media Specialist of the Year, while Joy Silk, CCSD supervisor of digital learning, presents her with a banner, and CCSD Chief Academic Officer Dr. Nicole Holmes prepares to hand her flowers. Below: CCSD 2022 Media Specialist of the Year Leslie Hicks of Knox ES STEM Academy talks about her passion for her work as a media specialist, while CCSD staff, along with her husband, Kyle, and children, Reagan and Ty, look on with pride.
Above: CCSD 2022 Media Specialist of the Year Leslie Hicks of Knox ES STEM Academy teaches a technology lesson in the media center behind her Dr. Seuss display as Read Across America week kicks off. Below: CCSD 2022 Media Specialist of the Year Leslie Hicks of Knox ES STEM Academy with her husband, Kyle, and children, Reagan (left) and Ty (right).