Student Star: Rachel Mayer Besara

Name: Rachel Mayer Besara
Major: Information Studies

“Education is so important, and I really enjoy working with people, information resources, and technology.”

“I had always wanted to be a school librarian, and could hardly believe my luck when I discovered that one of the best programs in the country was in my own backyard,” says Rachel Mayer Besara of her opportunity to study at Florida State’s College of Information. She and her husband had relocated to Tallahassee so that he could complete his doctoral studies in Physics. She “quickly took the opportunity to enroll” and within weeks was chosen as the Graduate Assistant for the College’s new program, Project LEAD.

An initiative funded by the federal agency, Institute for Museum and Library Services, Project LEAD focuses on leadership development opportunities for School Library Media Specialists (school librarians). Professors Eliza Dresang and Nancy Everhart are creating an online curriculum that will integrate the tenets of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and increase the probability that students will qualify for national board certification.

As the first master’s student to take the leadership courses, Rachel refers to herself as “their guinea pig.” She gives the student perspective while they build and modify the leadership courses. Once piloted, she relates which course readings are the most helpful and passes along comments made by other students, which allows the professors “to tailor the course to our needs and eliminate any ‘bugs’ more quickly.”

With Drs. Dresang and Everhart, Rachel has presented Project LEAD at the Florida Association for Media in Education’s convention in Orlando, Florida, and this past summer at the American Library Association’s National Meeting in New Orleans. “I explained the benefits of taking the leadership certification curriculum from the student perspective.” Her article on the experience will soon be published in Library Media Connection.

She has also collaborated with the National Board for Professional Teacher Standards Resource Center, which is housed at Florida A&M. She says, “Since Project LEAD is designed to offer support for national board candidates, we worked closely with the Center to get the best resources, and I helped with conference and bibliography preparations and with research regarding Florida teachers’ salaries.”

“Education is so important,” says Rachel, “and I really enjoy working with people, information resources, and technology.” Of her work with Professors Dresang and Everhart, she says, “Having them as teachers and mentors has enriched my experience beyond what I would have thought possible.”