Meet the Media Specialist Behind Gainesville High School

I had the privilege of interviewing Gainesville High School’s very own media specialist Robert Coe.

When selecting a practitioner to interview, I chose someone in the education industry because it is a field that can tend to fly over our heads. 

Robert Coe has served in the media specialist role for six years and has been in the education industry for a total of 26 years.

He received his bachelor's in creative writing from Florida State University and began teaching in Miami at Palm Meadow.

He stayed in this position for 10 years and eventually moved to California to work for Universal Music Group as an IT worker. 

“When I made the move to California, I only had 600 dollars to my name,” says Coe. 

I was beyond excited to hear about his time at UMG because the music industry is what I hope to pursue after college.

After working in this position, Robert decided to earn his master's degree in IT at Barry.

After that season of his life, he came back to Florida to work as an instructional designer in Orlando before deciding to come to Gainesville in 2005.

He came back to Gainesville to do more teaching before becoming a media specialist.

This man has been in so many roles, and his story is truly inspiring.

In his current role as the media specialist, Coe oversees the school's catalogs which contains over 22,000 books.

He helps to make sure all the books and catalogs are current and not outdated.

He also oversees the technology in the school.

This contains the over 160 laptops in the school as well as more technical things such as TVs and projectors.

He does his best to establish a fun environment for students to get their foot in the door of the library to make it a more fun place to learn; this includes promoting book clubs or partnering with businesses to make learning exciting.

He also helps run the website and maintains the databases for teachers and students.

Something I enjoyed hearing about from my interview with Robert Coe was the challenges faced in the education industry.

There is a huge difference between working in the public sector and working in the private sector.

He mentioned that in the field of education, there’s a huge lack of materials that come from a lack of funding. 

“It’s tough. You feel beaten down sometimes.” 

Something I didn’t know about Alachua County schools was that some are run through property taxes.

Since the University of Florida owns most of these areas, they are exempt from paying these property taxes.

This takes a toll on Alachua County schools and their funding. 

“We are constantly having to make a plea to the public stating the money that we need.” 

This falls back on the teachers and staff in the education industry and puts an enormous amount of stress on their careers.

I asked Coe how he and the rest of the staff crawl out of this hole that they’re placed in. 

“You’re not always going to have the resources that you want. Because of this, you’re going to have to find creative ways to do the best with what you have. You do what you do and try to maintain a level of efficiency and accountability. Whatever students and teachers need, they should have.” 

Robert Coe states that his career is fulfilling because he looks at it as a way to support teachers. They need all the support they can get.

I asked Robert what advice he had for young practitioners: He told me to always stay ahead and always stay up to date. In a field like this, things are always changing. It’s important to remember that new news today is old news tomorrow.