Building Community, Connections, & Learning


Johanna Schooley
ES Librarian
Seoul International School

Learning, connecting and the building of community took a different twist this year as world events forced educators to think, plan and instruct in ways never before considered. This included how the Elementary School Library at Seoul International School in South Korea remained an “open” and active hub of learning. As the pendulum has swung from virtual learning to in-person and back again, students were never without opportunities to have fresh library books.
Although students might not have been able to walk in and freely “shop” the shelves, the library doors were never “closed” to them. We created the Tiger Book Shuttle which allowed patrons to request books and have them available for pickup. Students, Parents and the community could request either a specific title or make a more general request and a member of the library team “shopped” the shelves. The books, after having been sanitized, could then be picked up outside the SIS ES Library or through Curbside Pick-up, depending upon whether students were learning in person or virtually.
Students also have access to over 1,000 eBooks that are available for check out 24 hours a day. Creating opportunities to bring the SIS Elementary school community together to celebrate, connect and learn as one has been an important focus for the ES Library. The year began by collaborating with the ES Art Department to Celebrate Dot Day as a school. It was kicked off with a Virtual Assembly to watch a reading of The Dot by Peter Reynolds. Students attended via Zoom from home, joining teachers who were gathered in the school auditorium. The entire school community, no matter their location, dressed creatively in Dots to celebrate the day. Students then created their own Dot Art during Art class and their creations were placed into a Virtual Dot Art Gallery, which was unveiled during our second all Elementary School Virtual Assembly two weeks later. In October, the Elementary school began a Virtual Authorator in Residence program, connecting and working with author/illustrator David Biedrzycki.
He Zoomed in every few months to work with the entire student body in a series of writing and illustrating workshops. Workshops have been held by grade level and have been tailor-made to directly impact each grade’s student learning. From Mr. Biedrzycki, students have learned the writing and editing process and have been able to apply some of those techniques to their own writing directly after working with him. Our youngest students were even able to provide Mr. Biedrzycki with specific story elements – characters, setting, and problems and help him to create an original story just for them. The learning, connection, and memories students have of working and talking with Mr. Biedrzycki, a published author, is something they will carry with them throughout their elementary school years and beyond. While how the Seoul International School Elementary Library has operated throughout this year may have been different, our mission has remained the same – to support SIS as a community of passionate readers, collaborators, critical thinkers, inquirers and life-long learners who connect and contribute to the world around them.

What do you think about the points raised in this article? We’d love to hear your feedback.



Ms. Schooley is currently the ES Librarian at Seoul International School. She has worked as a teacher-librarian across the world for many years developing information literacy programs and re-designing libraries into flexible centers of learning. These centers of learning have inspired students, faculty and the community to connect, collaborate, create, or reflect, allowing for them to acquire new knowledge and skills. She has presented at various educational conferences around the world on a variety of topics including Research Tools for Young Researchers and Rethinking Libraries into Learning Hubs.

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