Jennifer Berg Gaither
Librarian and IB Extended Essay Coordinator
Joseph Meyerhoff Library, Baltimore City College
The first I Love My Librarian Award recipient from Maryland, Jennifer plays an instrumental role in prepping students for the Extended Essay portion of the high school’s International Baccalaureate Diploma program, a rigorous process of research and writing.
She inspires students, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, to rise to the challenge. If students need extra help, she meets them at coffee shops in the evenings, on weekends and school breaks. She even provides rides for students who have transportation challenges getting to school.
One of her students said, “I never had a teacher who believed in me as much as Mrs. Berg. We literally could not find an excuse she would accept for not getting our work done, and she was with us every step of the way.”
To increase participation in the Extended Essay, Jennifer launched a video series in Spanish reach underserved students. She created additional videos to include instructional information and advice to help and encourage students through the entire process. Jennifer also created a library relaxation station to help students during stressful times. She provided meditative coloring pages, essential oils, massagers and hot water for tea or cocoa.
Jennifer reimagined the school’s approach to deadlines by accepting students’ late work, without any penalties. Even though it could create extra work for Jennifer, she said fewer students are giving up the program because they were able to schedule their own timelines.