By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, COKATO, MN Dassel-Cokato Middle School Media Specialist Pam Beckermann recently received statewide recognition for her work in technology and media education.
Beckermann was nominated for the Information and Technology Educators of Minnesota (ITEM) by her principal, Alisa Johnson, and high school media specialist husband, Paul Beckermann, for the Distinguished Service Award. She accepted the award during the annual conference Oct. 3 in St. Cloud.
The fact that Beckermann was nominated was unbeknownst to her, until her husband told her one day before receiving a phone call from ITEM informing her she would be receiving an award at the upcoming conference.
When Paul first told her, “I didn’t think anything of it,” Pam said, thinking she wouldn’t actually get the award. “I was not expecting it,” she said.
ITEM, formerly Minnesota Education Media Organization (MEMO), is a membership organization serving school media and education technology professionals. According to the ITEM website, the organization is committed to providing leadership and professional growth for quality media and technology programs which meet the learning and instructional needs of students, staff and administration.
For Beckermann, who expressed she doesn’t like being in the spotlight, the award is very humbling. She credits the support from her classroom teachers as being instrumental in her meeting the award criteria.
The award is dependent on certain criteria, such as circulation numbers and media projects within the school.
“What I do can’t happen without the help and support of the classroom teachers,” Beckermann said, noting that her media education is integrated in the classroom setting. “It’s dependent on other teachers encouraging that . . . and they do at DC.”
Beckermann has been a media specialist at the middle school for 21 years, though that wasn’t her original intention. Rather, she “fell into it.”
She had a degree in business education and accepted a long-term substitute position in the media center in hopes of a teaching position opening in the business department.
When she got into the position, however, Beckermann had no desire to leave it. “I totally fell in love with it,” she said. From a business perspective, the position had the administration aspect that comes with handling the department’s budget, and she loves reading, and always enjoyed working with computers.
That’s when she decided to go back to school to earn a master’s degree in order to keep the position.
“It’s been really good. I like it here,” Beckermann commented, adding that the students are great and the community is supportive of the technology opportunities, which continue to increase.
For example, when she began her position, there was one computer lab and a few desktop computers in the classroom.
Next year, there will be nine mobile labs, with laptops that can be moved throughout the school.
From her perspective, that’s a win-win for everyone.
“Digital tools allow us to be more powerful educators and meet students’ individual learning needs,” she said.
Her job is no longer bound to the media center, either. Rather, Beckermann works within the classroom teaching students technology tools specific to the subject. For example, she has been working with social studies classes, teaching students how to utilize the databases to gather information on their subject, and then how to create a website.
Instead of writing an essay, students are building a website to share what they’ve learned, Beckermann explained.
To keep up with the ever-changing technology, Beckermann said it requires constant learning for her. That doesn’t bother her, though. “The reason I’m in this profession is because I believe in learning,” she said.
That is also one of the reasons she was nominated for this award.
“Pam is such a diligent worker,” said Alisa Johnson, middle school principal, who also nominated Beckermann. “She goes over and above in everything she does. She is very deserving of this honor.”