Over the summer break, the BISP Primary Library received a sleek makeover. Now, when you enter the Library, brightly-coloured book covers catch your eye against the new graphite bookshelves. Many of the shelves are both curved and on wheels, which allows the space to be reconfigured at any time. Framed student artwork hangs proudly on the walls and an enclosed ‘Makerspace’ is quickly taking shape. In fact, the entire Library has been completely redesigned with the students in mind.
At the helm of the Primary Library is new Canadian staff member, Ms Louise Phinney, and her team of Library Assistants, Ms Fon, Ms Too and Ms Taeng. Ms Louise has taken over from Ms Helle, whose vision and hard work prompted the launch of the Library’s redesign in Term 3 of last year.
We sat down with Ms Louise to learn more about her role and the exciting, new Makerspace that is nearing completion.
Can you tell us a bit about your career to date?
My career began in Canada, where I taught High School English Language and Literature. An advertisement in the newspaper one day in 1996 led me to my first international teaching job in Singapore and to subsequent roles in other schools in Singapore, as well as Macau, Romania and now Thailand.
In Singapore, I discovered my passion for the Early Years and this really changed my career trajectory. I completed a Masters in Early Childhood Education and joined study groups in Reggio Emilia, Italy, as I was particularly interested in student agency and the documentation of learning. At UWC, Singapore I was given the opportunity to become a Digital Literacy Coach and completed a Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy. While working as a Digital Literacy Coach I realised that digital literacy and the library went hand in hand so I went back to school again, this time completing my Teacher Librarian Specialisation. I’m also an Apple Distinguished Educator, a Google Certified Teacher and an ISTE Certified Teacher.
I feel so very fortunate to now have joined the team here at BISP. We have only been here for two months, but already feel welcomed and right at home.
Library and technology are my two passions and I really like to study – I’m definitely a life-long student!
What does your role at BISP entail?
My role is to create a student-centred library while developing a lifelong love of reading among all community members and to work alongside teachers as we integrate tech in classrooms.
In the library, I will be continuing the school’s work to develop a Makerspace and develop maker culture and design thinking among students. I will also be focusing on digital literacy coaching. In terms of the Library, I want it to be a warm and welcoming place, accessible to students all day long and I want the children to have lots of choices when they come here. And of course, I want to see children reading all of our wonderful books and enjoying the read-alouds that we do every day.
Can you tell us more about the Makerspace?
The Maker philosophy is already very visible at BISP – particularly in the Early Years where there are all kinds of recycled items that the children can build with.
In my last year in Bucharest, Romania, the Makerspace was open all day long and it was much more student-led. I’d love to see it used the same way here. Our Makerspace room itself was completed here over the summer and already has some big maker tables in it. It has a green screen for recording, sound boxes for recording sound and voice-overs, and areas to store all of our materials. It will eventually be home to all the electronics that we have, like the robotics, as well as the iPads. We hope to have this all up and running and the scheduling mapped out this term.