Two iSchool Alumni Named Finalists for 2017 Maryland School Librarian Of the Year Award

Two iSchool Alumni Named Finalists for 2017 Maryland School Librarian Of the Year Award

Two iSchool alumni have been named finalists for the 2017 Maryland School Librarian Of the Year Award. Tracy Jeffcot, '12 and Elizabeth Starnes, '04 are among the five finalists selected for the 2017 Maryland School Librarian of the Year award which honors a school librarian for exemplary service and outstanding achievements in the field of school library media. The recipient of the award will be announced at the Common Ground Conference during the Leadership Luncheon (May 5, 2017).

About The Award

The general purpose of MASL is the improvement of teaching and learning in Maryland by bringing together individuals who are engaged in the field of school library media and information studies. MASL achieves the general purpose by working toward developing a lifelong love of reading among students in Maryland, developing skills and promoting excellence in print and nonprint media production among students in Maryland, promoting and providing for the professional development of its members. In addition, MASL encourages the dissemination and sharing of ideas, programs and materials among members through conferences, publications, and other media, and encourages the implementation of state and national standards and guidelines for school library media programs. The recipient of the 2017 Maryland School Librarian of the Year award will receive a $500 cash award (donated by Follett), a $150 cash award (donated by Demco), a $50 gift certificate to Pizza Tugos Restaurant in Ocean City, MD, a $50 gift certificate to Fager’s Island Restaurant in Ocean City, MD, free registration to MASL’s 2017 Conference and free registration to Common Ground 2018.  The recipient will also receive a Maryland themed gift basket donated by Taylor Book Group in Bel Air, MD. Finalists will receive plaques and the recipient will receive a trophy both sponsored by Chesapeake Trophy in Lexington Park, MD. The twenty-five nominees were evaluated by a selection committee comprised of representatives from MASL, Maryland State Department of Education, McDaniel College, Towson University, and University of Maryland College Park based on the extent to which they exemplify the five roles (administrator, leader, information specialist, teacher, and instructional partner) of a library media specialist as set forth in AASL’sStandards for the 21st Century Learner.  From these nominees, the five finalists were chosen.

About The Finalists From Maryland's iSchool

  • Elizabeth Starnes, Southern High School, Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Ms Starnes is the librarian at Southern High School in Anne Arundel County (2010-present). She has a Master of Science in Library and Information Services from the University of Maryland (2004), a Master of Science in Education, Technology for Educators from Johns Hopkins University (1993) and a Bachelor of Science in Special Education from Miami University (1987). She earned her National Board Certification in 2010. Prior to working at Southern High School she was at Lothian Elementary School in a number of capacities: Special Education Teacher (1989-1993), Third Grade Teacher (1993-2005), and Reading Intervention Specialist (2005-2010). She began her career as special education teacher at Mills Parole Elementary (1988-1989). Elizabeth is currently a member of the American Library Association, Young Adult Library Association, Maryland Association of School Librarians, Educational Media Association of Anne Arundel County, Maryland Society for Educational Technology, Maryland State Educators Association, and the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County. She is the e-coach for her school and has been since the program began in 2004. She was a MICCA/MSET grant winner in 2006 and in 2014 accepted the Washington Area Community Theater Honors Award for Best Costume Design in a Musical. She has led presentations to a variety of groups including principal meetings, AACPS Leadership Conference, the Office of Instructional Technology, MSET, and Towson University. She has been selected as teacher of the month several times throughout her teaching career, and most recently at Southern High School in 2016. Elizabeth is currently a semi-finalist for AACPS Teacher of the Year, 2016.​
  • Tracy Jeffcott, Somerset Elementary School, Montgomery County Public Schools. Ms. Jeffcott was born and raised in North Canton, Ohio. She received an Early Childhood Education BS from Miami University (Ohio), a Master of Library Science from the University of Maryland, and is currently working on an Administration Certification through Hood College. Tracy began her career teaching third grade and currently serves as a Media Specialist to students in grades Kindergarten to 5 at Somerset Elementary School in Montgomery County. She works collaboratively with classroom teachers to support the integration of information literacy skills into daily instruction.  Tracy utilizes Google Apps for Education (GAFE) to maximize collaboration, instruction and student engagement. Most recently, Tracy created a dynamic makerspace for all students to engage in independent STEAM related inquiry. She serves on the school leadership team, administrative core team, and STEM PLC. She is the representative for elementary school media specialists on the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) Councils on Teaching and Learning and a member of the Montgomery County Educational Media Specialists Association (MCEMSA).  For the last two years, Tracy has worked as a mentor to first-year MCPS School Library Media Specialists. She facilitates professional development at both a school and county level. For three summers, she participated in curriculum summits to create instructional resources for Montgomery County elementary educators.  In October 2016, Tracy was honored to host Media Specialists from around the United States as a part of the School Library Journal Leadership Summit tour.

About The Other Finalists

  • Melissa Da, The Mount Washington School, Baltimore City Public Schools. Ms. Da is a librarian for Baltimore City Public Schools. She received her BA with Honors in Anthropology and Dance in 1998 from Wesleyan University. She taught second grade at Boston’s French American International School for two years before heading to Pittsburgh on a full scholarship to pursue her MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences, which she earned in 2001. She was a school librarian in Chicago, Illinois, for three years before moving to Baltimore in 2005. She worked as a children’s librarian for the Enoch Pratt Free Library and returned to the school library profession in 2006. She has been the media specialist at The Mount Washington School for 11 years. Since her school’s expansion into an IB MYP Middle School, Melissa manages the Lower Building (K-3rd) and Upper Building (4th-8th) libraries which serve 620 students.   Melissa is a member of the American Library Association (ALA), the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), and the Maryland Association of School Librarians (MASL). She was the recipient of the prestigious Coretta Scott King Book Award Grant and is a member of the Beta Phi Mu International Library and Information Studies Honor Society. Her school leadership positions have included chairing her school’s annual Read-a-thon, American Education Week, a Read-Across-America extravaganza, and a Spring Book Fair. She is a Teacher Representative on her school’s PTO. She has led professional development sessions at the school and district level relating to literature, literacy, curriculum, and technology. Currently, she co-chairs the Black Eyed Susan Picture Book Award Committee.    Melissa gets students excited about literature, teaches information literacy, and research using all media types.  Additionally, she fosters meaningful collaboration with colleagues and maintains a strong relationship with the community-at-large. Bilingual in French and English and fluent in Spanish, Melissa lives in Baltimore with her husband and two sons.  

  • Kimberly Johnson, South Carroll High School, Carroll County. Ms. Johnson has enjoyed being the media specialist at South Carroll High School for the past four years. She earned her School Library Media degree at McDaniel College in 2012. Previously, she was a social studies teacher at Susquehannock High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in History and Social Studies Education from Messiah College in 2005. Kim is a member of MASL and serves on the High School Committee for the Black Eyed Susan Award. She is also a member of MSET, ISTE, ALA, AASL, and YALSA. Kim participates in the Maryland Makes State Consortium, and has presented at MSET Common Ground, MASL, and MAG.  Kim’s philosophy of librarianship is based on connections. She strives to create opportunities for meaningful connections between students, faculty, information, and ideas.  Whether through print, technology, or shared experiences, these connections form a foundation of continuous learning and authentic exploration.

  • Maria O'Toole, Carroll Manor Elementary School, Frederick County Public Schools. Ms. O'Toole has been a Frederick County Public Schools library media specialist at Carroll Manor Elementary since 2013. With the vision of a place of learning for all students in all subjects, she has purposed to build a future-ready library. The library now boasts thirty Chromebooks, flexible seating options, dry erase surfaces, enhanced digital subscriptions, an extensive ebook collection, and a ‘genrefied’ fiction section. In 2016, she established the CMES Library STEAM Makerspace, incorporating a LEGO wall; Code-a-pillars; Ozobots; and Makey Makey, Little Bits, and Snap Circuits kits. She has absolutely zero formal training in electrical circuitry or coding, but she learns with her students every day! Maria discovered her passion for school librarianship while taking Literature for Young Adults as an undergraduate. She earned a BA in English, summa cum laude, from McDaniel College in 2008, completing minors in secondary education and writing. Maria was recognized as a Maryland Teacher of Promise, and taught as a high school English teacher in Carroll County for five years. She earned her MS in School Library Media from her alma mater in December 2011.  Maria also holds a post-baccalaureate certificate in Writing for Children and Young Adults from McDaniel and has been published in Faces magazine. A lifelong learner, she is currently completing coursework in Educational Leadership at Hood College.Maria is a member of several leadership and academic honor societies, including Phi Beta Kappa. An active member of MASL, Maria has served on a Black-Eyed Susan Graphic Novel committee since 2014, helping to found the Grades 6-9 list. She is currently serving as an FCPS TLC Super-user and is proud of her continued role in the FCPS/Frederick County Public Library summer reading list collaboration.


A detailed description of the application process along with a complete list of all twenty-five (25) nominees, including their professional biographies, is available on the Maryland Association of School Librarians website. Visit  for more information.