A Librarian's Quest to Design Better Communication
A look at the MARSP Foundation Scholarship Fund
It’s the late 1990s. Technology is progressing rapidly, and along with it, a concern over equitable access to electronics and the world wide web of information they conduct. Jeri Schneider is a driver-clerk for the Ypsilanti Book Mobile with a fondness for children’s literature and research databases. She decides to enter graduate school for library science to help bridge the “digital divide” in her community.
Fast forward to 2022, Schneider is the school librarian and website manager at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Technology hasn’t slowed a bit, and neither has Schneider in her quest to improve accessibility. Her job now includes production of informational and instructional materials, both printed and digital. She enjoys this aspect of her work, but without formal graphic design training, she sometimes feels as though her designs are lacking.
“I know a little bit about graphic design,” says Schneider, “but then I look at what others do and I think, ‘Wow, that’s really clear. I want to be able to do that.’ I want to learn how to convey information effectively using text and graphics and their arrangements. I want to learn how to convey information better.”
For years, Schneider considered taking a class, but as a single mother with a limited budget and schedule, the prospect always felt out of reach. Then, a retired colleague and current MARSP member mentioned the MARSP Foundation Scholarship Fund to Schneider.
She looked into the scholarship, and learned that the funds were available to all active public school employees looking to advance their careers in the public school arena.
Marie Wilkerson, Foundation Board Chair, explained the rationale behind the scholarship:
“As retirees, we understand the need for working school personnel to develop their skills, and how financially challenging it can be to obtain additional education.”
Seeing her path forward, Schneider applied for the scholarship, and received $500 towards an online Introduction to Graphic Design Course through Washtenaw Community College.
“I’d thought about taking a class for so many years, and it meant a lot to get the scholarship and to be supported in this work. It’s really boosted my confidence.”
As a lifelong learner, Schneider couldn’t be happier to be a student again.
“I love taking classes. Everyone complains about the homework, but I like it, and I like interacting with younger people. Going back into class as an older learner, I’m not afraid to ask questions. It’s been freeing to do that at this point in my life.”
Schneider says she’s already incorporated lessons from class into her daily work. She’s also had the chance to pass along design tips and tricks to the students at Community High.
“The class is leveling up my skills and benefiting everyone in the school,” says Schneider.
Of course, the Foundation is pleased to hear it. This is precisely what the scholarship was set up to do.
Are you interested in supporting individuals like Jeri Schneider to advance their public school career? Visit www.marsp.org/foundation to learn more and donate.
Applications for the next round of scholarships are due March 31, 2023. For information on how to apply, visit www.marsp.org/foundation/#scholarship-fund