LETTER: Don’t Cut Media Assistants in Greenwich Schools

Open letter to Greenwich Schools Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones and Members of the Board of Education from Jeannine Madoff

As a Greenwich resident, parent, and teacher in the district, it is incumbent upon me to speak up when I see things going in the wrong direction.

For the last 25 years, I have been an ALP teacher, an elementary classroom teacher, a Library Media Specialist, the Coordinator of the district’s Media Program, and now, a classroom teacher again.  I have experienced the level of responsibility and skills needed for each position and have collaborated with hundreds of teachers over the years.

Please do not cut the positions or reduce the hours of the Library Media Specialists or the Media Assistants!  We could never have transitioned so smoothly into Distance Learning without their constant support and skills. Since more Distance Learning and a complex new in-person learning experience is in our near future, we cannot afford to lose these two important members of each school’s community.

The Media staff is the heart of our school. They are the people who provide insight into the ever-shifting  world of technology. As an example, our certified Media Specialist, Jane Martellino, is a nationally respected, gifted teacher with the kind of skills that cross all disciplines and grades. She has been on fire since the start of Distance Learning, providing our staff with video tutorials, providing digital lessons for everyone, especially those who needed extensive support with this transition, and troubleshooting problems we all face each day.  On top of that, she provides a seemingly limitless knowledge of literature and resources for all content areas across all grade levels.  She is an Essential Worker of the highest caliber.

Our school’s Media Assistant, Cheryl Robbins, is just as essential.   At our school, she is not a “clerk” or “assistant,” but a professional who goes above and beyond her job description every single day.  With all the changes to scheduling, staffing, and instruction next year, we can’t afford to lose her for even an hour of the day. Some of you may not know this, but the Media Assistant is not just checking out and shelving books.  She supports all teachers in the building every day. She facilitates the planning of school events, helps with logistics (such as the use of space, volunteers, room preparation, resources). She makes it possible for the Media Specialist to provide essential teaching services by keeping the library running smoothly, sharing her knowledge of literature to students and teachers who come in for advice, and handling myriad library issues. It isn’t a luxury to have a Media Assistant for a library that circulates more than 14,000 books a year and provides 1:1 academic interactions with up to 385 students and more than 40 staff members each day. It is ESSENTIAL.

I hope you will consider taking this potential cut off the chopping block.  It will only hurt students and teachers even more than we have already been hurt.  Please understand that I’m aware of the need to make cuts due to the BET’s thoughtless actions, but elementary staff is already at a breaking point.  We need all the staff we currently have and the Media Program, in its entirety, is essential to every building.

Jeannine Madoff
Cos Cob