Media specialist named top computer educator

April 23, 2000|By JULIE E. GREENE

Students research Australian animals on the Internet to create an imaginary zoo exhibit.

Second-graders gather local weather data and e-mail it to a teacher in Canada to help a class there with a project.

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These are some of the ways Diane Mentzer, Paramount Elementary School's library media specialist, has integrated technology into learning experiences for students at the school north of Hagerstown.

Mentzer was named Washington County Computer Educator of the Year at the annual Maryland Instructional Computer Coordinators Association Convention in Baltimore last month.


She received a plaque from the association that she hung in Paramount's media center and got a certificate of commendation from the Washington County Board of Education last week.

Mentzer said she found it appropriate she received the honor during School Library Media Month.

"A lot of people don't realize how much technology the library media specialists have to deal with," said Mentzer, 41, of Waynesboro, Pa.

Technology is involved in approximately 90 percent of her work these days, from the automated card catalog to teaching teachers about computer programs they can use in class.

"These kids have been on computers since kindergarten," Mentzer said. "They're often more comfortable with the computers then the teachers are."

But while they may be proficient with using a computer keyboard and accessing the Internet, there's still a lot students can learn using computers and the World Wide Web.

"The kids seem to think the information is going to come to them," said Mentzer, who has been the librarian at Paramount for 17 of her 18 years with the county.

They have to learn how to do research using the Internet, she said.

One way Mentzer gets them to do that is by using WebQuest, an activity she learned last summer at the Maryland Technology Academy in Towson that requires students to use the Web for research.

She has worked with teachers from kindergarten through fifth grade to show them how to use computer programs such as WebQuest so they can create their own Web activities for their classes.

Mentzer hopes the reading and research skills students hone while working with programs such as WebQuest will help improve their scores on the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests.

The computer skills the students learn also will help them when they enter the work world since most jobs are or will be connected to computer technology, Mentzer said.

Mentzer was nominated for the computer educator award on the school level by Paramount Principal Joanne Hilton.

"She has wonderful ideas about how to integrate technology into the regular curriculum," Hilton said.

Mentzer has been a "leader in the field of technology for the library media specialist" said Roseann Fisher, supervisor of library media services for the School Board.

Fisher said Mentzer shares her knowledge and expertise with teachers and librarians from the elementary to high school level.

As Paramount's technology coordinator, Mentzer finds herself tackling computer problems dealing with everything from e-mail to hardware.

She's also responsible for Paramount's Web site. It can be found at

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