Since earning her school librarianship endorsement in 2015, Maura Madigan has taken the lessons of Longwood’s Master of Education in School Librarianship program from theory to practice. A true leader in the profession, Madigan has written and published two books in two years: Learning Centers for School Libraries in 2021 and Project-Based Learning for Elementary Grades, anticipated in the summer of 2022. Her goal of connecting teachers with resources for project-based learning (PBL) drives her work.  Photo of Madigan standing in a library.

“I think the books are important because they’re practical, making the topics less intimidating,” Madigan said. “They show how to implement the National School Library Standards in fun and creative ways. School librarians can integrate learning centers and PBL projects into their existing instruction.”

Madigan entered Longwood’s School Librarianship Program when Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) sponsored a cohort of teachers in earning their library endorsement. The program’s flexible hybrid model with an emphasis on in-person instruction appealed to her. 

It’s set up for teachers working full-time,” Madigan said. “Having the professors come to us was essential since I was unable to take time off to go to the Longwood campus. There’s also a nice balance of online and in-person classes.”

Currently a librarian at North Springfield Elementary School in Springfield, Va., Madigan embeds lessons from the program and her professors on a daily basis. 

“They designed assignments and led discussions that helped us envision ourselves in the new role of school librarian. They also showed us how our skill sets as teachers would transfer to the library.”

One of the skill sets Madigan transferred included the application of PBL. As a first-year librarian, she created learning centers that encouraged independence and creativity in her students. 

“When I became a librarian, few teachers at my school were using PBL with their classes. Since I saw every student every week for library specials, I realized I had an incredible opportunity. I could ensure that all students could take part in these valuable learning experiences.”

Madigan has presented on PBL and learning centers at numerous conferences, most recently the 2021 American Association of School Libraries (AASL) and Virginia Association of School Libraries (VAASL) annual conferences. Collaboration has been essential to her professional growth. In fact, a comment from a colleague after her 2019 presentation at the VAASL conference sparked the idea for her first book. 

Currently, Madigan is collaborating with Kim Sigle, a library educational specialist in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), to write an article about school library policies and practices. 

Madigan recommends Longwood’s School Librarianship program to all of the teachers she knows who are interested in becoming librarians. 

Two former teachers at my school have already completed the Longwood program and are currently working as FCPS librarians.”