Courtney Gagnon, Alabama AEM
Posted on December 19, 2022 at 1:05 PM by Virginia Smith
Courtney Gagnon uses CAP's Bee-Bot STEM Kit in lessons at Coosada Elementary School in Millbrook, Alabama, where she is the Library Media Specialist.
December 19, 2022
Meet Courtney Gagnon, Library Media Specialist at Coosada Elementary School in Millbrook, Alabama. She has been an educator since 2014 and became a media specialist two years ago. With a grant to CAP from Maxwell Air Force Base's Air University Innovation Accelerator, Coosada Elementary is participating as a beta test for a possible new program. Each teacher at Coosada Elementary was provided a complimentary CAP/AE membership and other CAP products. "Coosada Elementary School has had the unique and amazing opportunity to partner with Civil Air Patrol, who provides robots, curriculum and access to other STEM resources to benefit our students," Gagnon says. Since she was a child, she knew she wanted to become a teacher, but the passion to be a librarian came as she was pursuing her master's degree. "I enjoy being a librarian so much because I have the opportunity to serve and teach students as well as provide support for the faculty," she says. Her students have been engaged in their media lessons that use CAP's Bee-Bot STEM Kits. "My goal," she says, "is to create a caring and joyful environment that endorses a love of reading and learning for any and all students that I encounter in my career." We asked her some questions about her career and involvement with CAP, and her answers follow. [Click here to read an article on the CAP-Innovation Accelerator collaboration.]
Tell us about your current school and your role there.
I am the Library Media Specialist of Pre K-2nd grade students at Coosada Elementary School in the Elmore County (Alabama) Public Schools (ECPS) system. Coosada is a Title I school.
Why did you become an educator and how many years have you been in this field?
I have been an educator in ECPS since 2014. I was a teacher at Millbrook Middle School before becoming the librarian at CES in 2020. I knew I wanted to be a teacher since I was a child. However, the passion to become a librarian didn't come until I was beginning to pursue my master's degree. I was fortunate enough to attend Auburn University for both of my degrees. I immediately fell in love with the Library Media program and knew being a school librarian was my niche. I enjoy being a librarian so much because I have the opportunity to serve and teach students as well as provide support for the faculty. I always enjoyed collaborating with my peers when I was in the classroom, so being a librarian is the best of both worlds!
What is your philosophy of teaching?
My goal is to create a caring and joyful environment that endorses a love of reading and learning for any and all students that I encounter in my career. The librarian is an essential piece to the school puzzle as they support 21st Century program students as well as the teachers. I have the special opportunity to teach reading skills, technology skills, and information literacy. Together, these skills give students the tools they need to become a lifelong learner that can effectively gather and read information using various sources, print and non-print, and then utilize that information appropriately. I enjoy gathering information and sharing it with others, working together with my colleagues, selecting books that connect to classroom content, and using technology.
Please describe any Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Education programs you participate in and why you participate.
Coosada Elementary School has had the unique and amazing opportunity to partner with Civil Air Patrol, who provides robots, curriculum and access to other STEM resources to benefit our students. I have been able to implement the materials into my library classes several times this school year. I have mostly used the Bee-Bots with the coordinating mats; however, I look forward to taking advantage of more materials and resources throughout the school year.
How did you get involved in the Civil Air Patrol AEM program?
I have been an Aerospace Education Member before, but this year I have been involved due to our school's partnership with CAP.
Please tell us about your school’s participation in the schoolwide program with Civil Air Patrol.
Our school has over 50 classroom teachers as well as specialists, intervention, etc. Our students are getting exposed to robots, coding, teamwork, and critical thinking skills more often than ever before due to our access to the materials and resources provided by CAP. Some classrooms use them daily in stations while others use them for special days such as STEM Day, etc. We had multiple classrooms use them at our Math Night in November as well. We have also had CAP volunteer with classroom teachers to provide additional support for their lessons.
What are the other teachers telling you about the program?
Our teachers are saying they appreciate having the materials so readily available, and it makes planning STEM activities easier than before.
Why do you teach in the Aerospace Education/STEM area?
While I tend to focus on reading and literacy skills, I know the importance of STEM education and the valuable skills that it provides our students. Critical thinking and cooperative learning are so important, and STEM is a great way to incorporate that. Students love using a robot without even realizing it may actually be testing them on a skill such as fiction vs. nonfiction. I have a limited amount of time with the students for library lessons, and so I love how kid-friendly the robots are so most students all get a chance to work with the robot in our 30-minute timeframe.
What is the best advice you have for a new AEM working with CAP programs and materials?
My advice for a new AEM working with CAP programs and materials would be to take time to look through all that is provided to find the best way to support your students with all that is available. Reach out to the wonderful and friendly staff at CAP for support, advice, questions, etc.
Courtney Gagnon says her students enjoy using the Bee-Bot robot to code.