As they gather in D.C. later this month for meetings and presentations, members of the American Association of School Librarians will also have plenty to celebrate. The division recently announced its newly elected leadership as well as the recipients of its annual awards and grants.
Association Election Results
Annual AASL election voting wrapped up on April 3, and the winners were announced the following week. New terms of service begin when the ALA Annual Conference concludes on June 25.
Kathy Carroll, lead school librarian for the Westwood High School Library Information Center in Columbia, S.C., will be the 2020–2021 AASL president. She has served in numerous leadership and committee roles in both AASL and ALA over the years, including as ALA councilor-at-large and member of the ALA Spectrum Advisory Committee. Carroll will serve as president-elect in the coming year as Mary Keeling becomes president (for our q&a with Keeling, see “Fostering Good Citizenship,” p. 89).
The AASL board of directors also filled an additional 12 open positions in the elections. Among those, Diane Chen, school librarian at Stratford STEM Magnet School in Nashville, will continue to serve as AASL division councilor. Laura Hicks, education specialist of school library media at the Maryland State Department of Education, was elected member-at-large. Four regional directors step up to the plate, beginning three-year terms. Allison Mackley, teacher-librarian and K–12 library department chair at Hershey High School in Hershey, Pa., will represent Region 2 as its director. Courtney L. Lewis, director of library services and innovative research at St. Catherine’s School in Richmond, Va., was victorious in her bid for Region 4 director. Jennifer L. Anders, librarian at Corner High School, just north of Birmingham, Ala., has landed the position of Region 5’s director. And Region 9 welcomes Jennisen Lucas, district librarian for Park County School District 6 in Cody, Wyo., as its new director.
AASL Annual Awards
The winners of AASL’s 2019 awards and grants will be feted during the AASL Awards Ceremony on Saturday, June 22, from 5 to 7 p.m. (This appointed time marks a change from previous years, as AASL members voiced their preference for making the awards a more social event.) Here, we introduce some of the standout librarians and administrators being honored for their accomplishments.
High School District 214, in Arlington Heights, Ill., has won the National School Library Program of the Year Award, which is sponsored by Follett, and will take home a crystal obelisk and $10,000 for its school libraries. According to a statement from award committee chair Rob Hilliker, the district was singled out for “the depth and richness of the collaboration among the administrators and school librarians,” as well as “the integration of programming and service delivery with local public libraries, and the rich educational partnerships with local businesses to promote authentic, project-based inquiry learning for their students.”
As an example of how High School District 214 is helping its students learn the skills needed to reach their full potential, the district spotlighted one computer science student who created an iPad app that helped integrate the databases, other e-resources, and the main catalogue in her school’s library. The app was such a hit that it will soon be used in all of the high schools in the district.
The AASL Affiliate of the Year Award, which recognizes the division affiliate “most active and dynamic in achieving the goals of AASL at the state and local level,” goes to the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association. PSLA will receive a $1,000 stipend.
The Collaborative School Library Award celebrates the creative ways in which school librarians and teachers team up to develop and implement curriculum-supporting programs. This year’s winner of the $2,500 prize, sponsored by Upstart (the Demco brand that sells library promotional items), is Carolyn Foote, school librarian at Westlake High School in Austin. Foote and Westlake High’s art history teacher, Melinda Darrow, collaborated on an art history independent study project. The pair traveled to
Washington, D.C., with two groups of students, who were then able to access unique resources at the Smithsonian Museum libraries and the Library of Congress as they did research on the subject of their art theses.
Joyce Valenza, assistant teaching professor of library and information science at Rutgers University, has been named recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. In addition to receiving other career accolades, Valenza has previously been recognized for her technology expertise and was named the inaugural AASL Social Media Superstar: Leadership Luminary in 2017.
A program titled “Lyrics as Literature: Using Hip-Hop to Amplify Student Voice (Activism) and Social Justice” has earned its creators the Roald Dahl’s Miss Honey Social Justice Award. Inspired by the 2015 Freddie Gray Uprisings in Baltimore, Md., Joquetta Johnson, who is school librarian at Randallstown High School in Randallstown, Md., partnered with ninth through 12th-grade English and history teachers and the principal in an effort to help students become agents of change. As part of the program, the team used hip-hop lyrics as a literary source in which students could explore different perspectives and culturally significant events.
Lessons within the program delved into such topics as race and racism in America, as well as hashtag activism, challenging students to create slogans that represented their personal mission statement. The children also held a student town hall meeting in the school library, where they discussed a list of their issues and concerns in several categories with the principal and other stakeholders from the community. In all, the winning Randallstown team is set to receive $2,000 for the librarian, a $1,000 travel and housing reimbursement to attend the AASL Awards presentation, and book donations worth $5,000 from PRH.
The newest Distinguished Administrator of the Year Award recipient is Shirley Simmons, assistant superintendent of educational services for Norman Public Schools in Oklahoma. Her leadership in coordinating the training of school librarians alongside educators and administrators as Norman Public Schools began to implement Guided Inquiry Design earned Simmons this recognition. The $2,000 award is sponsored by ProQuest, the library database and research-tool company.
Social Media Superstars
The Social Media Superstars program, which recognizes the role that social media plays in school library promotion, is now in its third year. Candidates are nominated by their peers, and finalists who are selected by the AASL Social Media Recognition Committee receive endorsements from members of the school-library community and the public. The committee then considers the endorsements and original nominations in order to select one person to be awarded in each of up to eight categories. This year’s eight honorees were announced on April 1.
Advocacy Ambassador: Rebecca Wynkoop, school librarian, Eagle Staff Middle School, Seattle.
One of Wynkop’s endorsements notes, “She persuades with facts and figures, as well as personal stories and connections.”
Curriculum Champion: Nancy Jo Lambert, teacher librarian, Reedy High School, Frisco, Tex.
Lambert is lauded for her use of social media platforms and online resources to help students access digital resources for their assignments, and helping them keep up with what’s happening in the library.
Leadership Luminary: Alison Mackley, teacher librarian, Hershey High School, Hershey, Pa.
Mackley’s exemplary skills include using social media to stay connected to her students and fellow staffers, while also connecting and sharing resources with other colleagues on a national level.
Program Pioneer: Amanda Jones, school librarian, Live Oak Middle School, Livingston, La.
Peers say Jones has excelled at promoting her many library programs—including Girls Who Code clubs and her STEAM program—via social media.
Reader Leader: Laura Gardner, librarian, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, Mass.
Gardner is being recognized for her passion for reading and the thoughtful book reviews she writes and shares on her social media channels.
Sensational Student Voice: Hannah Byrd Little, library director, the Webb School, Bell Buckle, Tenn.
According to her nominating materials, Byrd offers “unbridled support for student participation in library improvements” and advocates for the efforts of a student-run library committee, an outlet for student voices, through her social media posts.
Social Justice Defender: Matthew Winner, elementary school librarian, Howard County Public Schools, Md.
Winner has been praised for championing marginalized voices in children’s literature. “Through his Children’s Book Podcast, he empowers authors to share the background of their stories and features many diverse voices,” according to his nomination.
Tech Troubador: Katie McNamara, teacher librarian, North High School, Bakersfield, Calif.
“She is an inspired educator always looking for ways to make students’ learning relevant, engaging, and transferable to their own lives,” reads one of McNamara’s peer endorsements. She is known for her expertise in technology integration in her teaching, and for developing a variety of resources with such tech tools as Google Classroom, Flipgrid, and Buncee.
Best Apps and Websites Revealed
The AASL-committee-vetted lists of Best Apps for Teaching and Learning and Best Websites for Teaching and Learning will be revealed during two separate sessions on Saturday, June 22. The Best Apps committee will share its selections at 2:30 p.m. in room WCC-146A. Apps honored are considered to bring “exceptional value to inquiry-based teaching and learning” and to foster “the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration and are user-friendly to encourage a community of learners to explore and discover.”
The Best Websites presentation takes place at 1 p.m. in WCC-146A. The resources chosen for distinction on this list are evaluated by the same criteria as the Best Apps; however, the honorees in this category must be free websites.
Author Matt de la Peña will be the featured speaker at the AASL President’s Program on Saturday, June 22, at 9:30 a.m. De la Peña is known for such picture books as Love and Last Stop on Market Street, which earned him the 2017 Newbery Award, as well as for his six YA novels, which include Mexican WhiteBoy and Ball Don’t Lie.
When de la Peña’s appearance was announced earlier this year, AASL president Kathryn Roots Lewis shared a statement about how impressed she had been watching the author speak to an extremely attentive group of students in fall 2018. “As learners asked thoughtful, deep questions, Matt shared passionately from his rich life experience,” she said. “His powerful message of inclusiveness and equity is a must for all learners—children and adults—as Matt’s works inspire readers of all ages everywhere.” The event is open to all registered attendees at ALA Annual.