Tasha Bates is the Media Specialist for Okaloosa County School District. She grew up in Uvalde, Texas, where her love for books and her desire to work in education was instilled. Tasha began her career in education in 1996 in Marfa, Texas, after receiving her Bachelor of Arts from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. In 2003 she earned her Master of Science in Computer Education and Cognitive Systems from the University of North Texas, and in 2005 she completed her Master of Science in Library Information Science from UNT. While in Texas, she continued her educational career in Marfa, Bandera, and Del Rio, Texas, before moving to Charles Town, West Virginia, in 2009. After a year of working for the Department of Homeland Security, she reconnected with her passion for education as a high school English teacher. In the fall of 2013, Tasha became a Floridian and was hired to teach in Fort Walton Beach. Her teaching experience ranges from sixth grade to college, teaching Social Sciences, English, and Computer Science. Her librarian experience was at the elementary level. When she is not reading, Tasha enjoys training with her dog, Kali, sewing, and traveling.
I am currently the District Media Specialist for Alachua County Public Schools. Living in Alachua County can be difficult when you are married to a Seminole! My home is in High Springs which is the epitome of small town life. My hobbies include sewing, reading, going to the beach and playing with the grandkids. (I have five!).
You might see me occasionally on the back of a Harley - but only when it isn’t too hot.
I have lived in High Springs for 30 years. Prior to that, I lived in Jacksonville where I attended Jacksonville University and University of North Florida. My career has included being a classroom teacher, technology coach, a program coordinator for an Educational Consortium and trainer for a bank. The best job of all has been as a school library media specialist where I have spent the last 15 years.
Brandi Gutch has worked for Orange County Public Schools for twenty-five years. Seventeen of these years she has worked as a media specialist. She is currently the media specialist at Killarney Elementary. Brandi is an active member of Orange County Association of Educational Media (OCAEM). She has been the recording secretary for two years and the past President of OCAEM in 2019 and 2022. Brandi is also an active member of FAME. She previously served as the Local Arrangements co-chair for the FAME Conference and is the current recording secretary of the FAME Board. She also volunteers for the Orange County Student Media Festival and the Jim Harbin Student Media Festival. This school year she has completed the FPLS portfolio and looks forward to finding out if she has achieved this designation. Brandi is passionate about creating a thriving, creative, inventive, and loving library program for her students and faculty. She looks forward to continuing to advocate for school libraries and spread her passion for books within the FAME organization.
When Josie transferred to Media Specialist from the General Education classroom, she was able to use her years of experience in the education world as a platform to thrive. In her first year, Josie transformed a high school media center from a space rarely open to students and only checking out 200 - 300 books per year, to a space that is the hub of the school with over 2,000 books checked out each year. Josie has been an educator since 2000, with experience ranging from elementary to high school. She believes the Media Specialist position is truly the sweet spot of the education world.
It is my honor and privilege to run for the position of President of FAME. With twelve years of dedicated membership, invaluable experience on the Board of Directors, Region 1, Legislative Committee, and active involvement in shaping the landscape of school librarianship in our state, I am eager to contribute my passion and leadership to further advance our collective goals.
Throughout my journey as a member of FAME, I have witnessed the transformative power of school library programs in education and the pivotal role school librarians play in nurturing curious minds and fostering a love for learning. My dedication to this field has driven me to actively participate in various capacities, and I am proud to have contributed to the growth and prosperity of FAME alongside other dedicated members.
One of the highlights of my involvement was my role in the DOE workgroup tasked with developing the required training for all school librarians in the state of Florida. In collaboration with other esteemed colleagues, we were the advocates and voices of our profession and responsible for influencing the required DOE training that may have otherwise been one-sided. Together we ensured that best practices for collection development were embedded in the training. We showed professionalism. We showed grace and power. We did not stand silently by. We took every opportunity to highlight legislative requirements that aligned with best practices of librarianship. Given that we were facing giants in a battle to silence unheard voices, I am proud of the influence we collectively had.
Additionally, I have been actively engaged in knowledge-sharing and networking opportunities through presentations made with our organization. These experiences have not only helped me refine my own skills but have also enabled me to empower others in the field.
As a candidate for President, I am deeply committed to elevating the standards of school librarianship and promoting the value of our FAME across the state. If elected, I promise to channel my passion and experience into fostering an environment of collaboration, growth, and advocacy for our profession.
Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to the potential opportunity to serve as President and continue our organization's legacy of excellence.