INFLUENCER OF THE WEEK: Diana Hammond, Independence Elementary School

Ms. Hammond is the media specialist at Independence Elementary and has been with OCPS for 15 years.

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Position: Media specialist

Time at school: two years at Independence Elementary School, 15 years with Orange County Public Schools

Diana Hammond is the media specialist for Independence Elementary School, and she manages book circulations among the staff and students; purchases new material; oversees digital devices; runs the daily news show “Eagle News,” produced by fifth-grade students; and designs the school yearbook.

“My goal is to help every student find joy in reading and help them to become lifelong readers,” Hammond said.

“Mrs. Hammond does so much for our students,” Independence principal Jeff Peters said. “She is an excellent role model. She exposes our students to the wonderful worlds that are found within our books. She supports our students with anything they need. She encourages them and truly cares.”

What brought you to your school?

I was previously at another school in the community teaching second grade and was interested in becoming a library media specialist. I love this area and knew that I could not venture far, but with a new school opening, the position opened up here at IES, and I took a chance and applied!

What do you love most about your school?

It's the families! I have had such a beautiful welcome to this school community and know that IES families LOVE their school. The students are an extra bonus and always make me smile.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The fact that I am able to make connections with ALL of the students is extremely rewarding. I love to learn about their interests and help nurture them to learn more about new topics or stories that might interest them. The best moments are when they find what they are looking for and come back to tell me what they read or learned!

What would you be if you weren’t in this profession?

Ever since I was a little girl, I've always wanted to be a teacher, but if I wasn't, I would want to be a detective. I love to research and find out information (maybe that's why I wanted to be a librarian!). I am very resourceful!

Who influences you?

I can't say that I am influenced by just one person, but I can say that those who influence me usually are honest, hardworking and positive people like my parents and husband.

Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?

Mrs. Lee, my high school English teacher. She showed me that connections are extremely important in the education field and helped me foster a love for English literature (which I went on to study in college) and Broadway!

What is your favorite children’s book and why?

“A Perfectly Messed Up Story,” by Patrick McDonnell. I love to read this to my students because I can use my dramatic side when reading this aloud and it teaches them that even though things may not be how they planned, everything is just FINE.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to spend time with my family. You can often find us out on the boat or at the beach. I am an avid reader, a football fan (Philadelphia Eagles and Auburn Tigers!), a certified scuba diver, and I LOVE to sing.

If you could dine with any famous person, past or present, who would it be and why?

Princess Diana. I love anything related to the royal family and history!

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

The superpower I would love to have would be to be able to instantly transport to another place. My family lives in New Jersey, so I would love to be able to see them more.

If you could only listen to three bands or artists, who would they be and why?

I appreciate all kinds of music (I am a songbook), but it would have to be Celine Dion, Luke Combs and Jack Johnson.

What was your go-to lunch and favorite snack as an elementary student?

I always had school lunch, and my favorite day was pizza Friday! For snacks, I loved Dunkaroos, string cheese and honeybuns!

What is your favorite holiday and why?

My favorite holiday is the Fourth of July because I love fireworks, barbecues, time with family and the U.S.A.

Who was your best friend when you were in school and why? Are you still in touch?

My best friend is my college roommate, Alicia. She and I met the first day of college orientation. It could be weeks or months without us speaking, but when we do, we pick right back up like no time has gone by. That is a true friendship that stands the test of time!

What were your extracurricular activities as a student? Did you win any accolades or honors?

I was involved with all of the performing arts. I sang soprano 1 in our school choir and a cappella group; I was an all-South Jersey choir member; I played clarinet; and I participated in all of the musicals.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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