Youth Services Supervisor
St. Mary’s County Public Library, Leonardtown, MD
M.Ed., Educational Leadership, Walden University (online program), 2009
“Interactive Spaces for Families To Play, Learn and Discover,” 2011 American Library Association Annual Conference; 2012 Public Library Association National Conference futurethink The Young Professionals Initiative—St. Mary’s County
Photo ©Sean McGinty Photography LLC
After seven years as a middle school reading and language arts teacher, Amanda Ellington looked for a career that offered more “positive interactions with children and reading” than preparing them to score well on mandatory state tests. She found what she was looking for at her local public library, where, as youth services supervisor, she transformed multiple spaces within children’s areas into Active Learning Centers.
As a former teacher, Ellington recognized the importance of early childhood development and was determined to make her branch “more child-friendly,” according to St. Mary’s County Public Library director Kathleen Reif. Ellington presented her plan to library administrators and was awarded $10,000 to reconfigure an 8000 square foot youth area to include meaningful play stations. The activities would encourage young children and adults to share learning experiences that would better prepare the kids for school.
Using low-cost materials and mobilizing staffers, the concept has since expanded to more than 15 stations in three branches. Ellington now shares her experiences at state and national library conferences, explaining how to overcome cost and space limitations.
Ellington’s interests, however, go beyond early childhood. She is researching the concept of Active Learning Centers and Drop in Programs for tweens and teens to help them build 21st-century skills “and be fun at the same time,” she says.
She also is reaching out to adults, her own cohort, by cofounding and continuing involvement in the Young Professionals Initiative. The organization seeks to prevent this vulnerable group’s exodus from their suburban Maryland community after just a few years.
She herself is hooked on small meaningful signs that her work is touching her target audience. Ellington says her greatest success is hearing “I don’t want to leave!” from sobbing children as they are brought by a parent or caregiver to checkout books.
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