Welcome to the "Cybrary," the 21st Century "Library"

Reception honors 2016 LFF Award Winner, Grace Dyrek
A reception held in the Board Room at BCS Central Office honored this year’s Fitzgerald Excellence in Teaching Award winner, Grace Dyrek. Attended by Ms. Dyrek’s family and teaching peers, the Directors of Schools and Dr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald, the reception unveiled the plaque honor her. The 12th recipient of this award, Grace’s plaque was placed alongside the previous 11 award recipients. This award is in honor of the memory of Lillie F. Fitzgerald who lived a life of purpose teaching and touching many with her mind and heart.

At the reception, left to right: Dr. Linda Cash, BCS Director of Schools; Dr. Rodney Fitzgerald; Grace's mother, Ruth; the honoree; Cathy Goodman, Asst. Director, CCS; Margo Fitzgerald and Jeff Dyrek, Grace's husband.

Honoree, center, with CMS Principal Dr. Leneda Laing, left, and Cathy Goodman, CCS Assistant Director

Describing the impact of this honor, Mrs. Dyrek emphasized the impact the monetary gift has on students at Cleveland Middle School. 

Watch the short video and the photos below to see more of the artifacts/period reproductions that were purchased for the Cleveland Middle School's Library Media Center with the generous endowment of $2,000 from Dr. and Mrs. Rodney Fitzgerald.

The "Cybrary," the 21st Century "Library"

The ever changing world of technology places new demands on effective teachers as they seek relevant strategies for student engagement through technology. Yet, finding and using technological resources is often a laborious task. This is where this year’s award recipient excels as an invaluable support person for the classroom teacher.

When one thinks of a library, several different images might pop in your head. In my case, I remember my school experience with libraries. They were NOT the most inviting places to visit.

However, step in this library and you will encounter a technology-rich, welcoming environment with oriental rugs, comfortable sofas, shelves lined with books, inviting displays, classical music and computer labs. This library has a coffee/tea station for teachers where they can spend their lunch and planning periods. This place has become so popular that it was a site for a wedding!

After school hours, the library becomes an after-school program with several interest centers. Students can do their homework or build robots or fly drones.

The old concept of a library has now transitioned into a Media Center or “Cybrary” and the librarian has become a media specialist helping students and faculty alike with the latest technology for learning.


Winner Lillie F. Fitzgerald
Margo Fitzgerald, left, and Dr. Rodney Fitzgerald (right) congratulate the 2016 Lillie F. Fitzgerald award winner, Grace Dyrek, (center.) Read more about the award and the amazing people behind it below.

This award recipient has become the school’s webmaster and has adopted several online programs:

1 – OverDrive – an online digital library connecting students with our local Cleveland/Bradley Public Library
2 – BlackBoard – a Learning Management System teachers use to structure lessons.
3 – Mango Language Program – designed for gifted students as a world language enrichment program giving students access to 63 world languages taught online. ESL students also access this for learning English.

These programs are available through the efforts of this Media Specialist through the school’s own website which she created three years ago. Now, each of the core subjects has their own websites. 

Additionally, this award winner wrote a grant for additional iPads bringing the total to 50.

Students now use apps for science, social studies, math, and reading. Classes rotate through the Media Center to use the iPads and teachers can check out iPads to take to the classroom in a portable key-locked cabinet.

This winner acquired GoPro Camera and QuadCopter for lessons in terrain and geography, math, sports, and communications.

After-school students created a robot using Lego Mindstorms where they can use an app on their smart phones to give directions to the robot.

So, in her spare time, what else does this outstanding recipient do?
1 – Involved in the community with the National Reading Association and partnership with Cleveland/Bradley Public Library. She has facilitated several monthly meetings of the local National Reading Association in the school’s Media Center.
2 – Written and been awarded numerous grants through the Bradley/Cleveland Public Education Foundation and other sources.
3 – Authored two books, one of which The Seer and the Scribe, Spear of Desting, won the 2011 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, Silver Medal.
4 – Appeared on a Lifetime Network show called The Balancing Act.
5 – Presented at Southern Festival of Books
6 – Held book signings in Atlanta and New York at the Book Expo America.

This recipient has not always been in the classroom. In the past, her diverse jobs have included:
1 – Substitute teacher/Volunteer and Geography Club Leader
2 – Freelance Writer/Illustrator/Art Teacher
3 – Visual Information Specialist for the CIA
4 - Emergency Psychiatric Counselor
5 – Psychometrist
6 – Mental Health Worker – caring for and managing 40 adult schizophrenic patients.
7 – Printing Assistant
8 – Waitress
9 – Day Care Teacher
10 – Nurse's Aide

A native of New Orleans and growing up as a military brat and a chaplain’s daughter, this recipient has traveled the world with her family and husband, living in Japan, Germany, Panama, Hong Kong, Austria, England.

The winner holds two Master’s degrees both with 4.0 GPAs: one in Library Media Education from Western Kentucky University; a second in Psychology from Central Missouri State University.

In her philosophy of teaching, the winner states that “perhaps teaching is not so selfless after all, for when you try to awaken another’s natural curiosity, your own is piqued, and it is this infectious aspect that motivates me to awaken each day and hope that my own quest for enlightenment continues to be so contagious.”

This year’s recipient touches the lives of 1,300 students and 100 teachers and staff daily at Cleveland Middle School.

Cleveland Middle School and Grace Dyrek

The 2016 Lillie Frank Fitzgerald Excellence in Teaching Award Recipient is Grace Dyrek.        

Introduction of the Fitzgerald's by BCPEF Executive Director, Lynn Voelz
" This morning it is my privilege to introduce Dr. and Mrs. Rodney Fitzgerald. They are here with you to present the 12th annual Lillie F. Fitzgerald Excellence in Teaching Award. 

These two people are truly remarkable—first of all, really good folks you just want to know and spend time with.  Secondly, you’ll want to know them because of the impact and influence they’ve had on education in this community. 

Mrs. Fitzgerald began The Cleveland Education Foundation in the mid ‘90s and laid the foundation of impact the organization I represent, BCPEF, has been able to have on our schools, teachers and students. Dr. Fitzgerald has a history of involvement in local education for his entire career. They have both served admirably on our Executive Committee, for which I am personally grateful.

Additionally, they are amazing and most generous philanthropists and education is at the heart of their giving. They are absolutely passionate about excellence in education—excellence in teaching and each of you in this room have benefited in one way or another from their financial gifts.

This morning they will present the 12th annual Excellence in Teaching Award to an outstanding teacher. This award is unique in that it combines their passion for educational excellence and their heart for giving." 

Margo and Dr. Rodney Fitzgerald
Margo and Dr. Rodney Fitzgerald



Grace Dyrek, winner Lillie F. Fitzgerald Award

Grace Dyrek, 2016 Winner of the Lillie F. Fitzgerald Excellence in Teaching Award (above)

See how students are interacting with the artifacts and period reproductions in this short 3 minute video:

Video about Grace Dyrek