Cicely Lewis Named 2020 School Librarian of the Year

Lewis is the school librarian at Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, GA, and creator of the Read Woke movement. 

Photo ©Fernando Decillis

 

Cicely Lewis, school librarian at Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, GA, and creator of the Read Woke movement, is the 2020 School Librarian of the Year. The award, presented by School Library Journal (SLJ) and sponsored by Scholastic, recognizes K–12 library professionals for “outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of 21st-century tools and services to engage children and teens toward fostering multiple literacies.”

“It is our honor to hold up the work of Cicely Lewis, who is an extraordinary educator and has made all the difference in her community by engaging and empowering students,” SLJ Editor-in-Chief, Kathy Ishizuka said. “School Library Journal is pleased to celebrate her stellar work through the School Librarian of the Year Award, which highlights the critical role of library professionals in fostering multiple literacies among our nation’s youth.”

Lewis began Read Woke to encourage the 2,600 students and 240 staff members in her school to read books that better reflect their lives, have a protagonist from an oppressed or marginalized group, and give voice to the voiceless. But the idea went well beyond the walls of Meadowcreek. Lewis launched an international movement that has sparked a love of reading and interest in social justice in young people around the world. She also writes a regular SLJ "Read Woke" column offering thematic booklists and reviews.

“I started Read Woke to help empower my students,” said Lewis. “I never in my wildest dreams imagined it would take off like it has.”

READ: School Librarian of the Year

The extraordinary success of Read Woke was not the only reason Lewis was selected by a panel of judges, which included Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic Book Fairs John Schumacher; 2018 School Librarian of the Year Ali Schilpp; Bay Shore (NY) Middle School principal LaQuita Outlaw; and Steven Geis, principal at North Trail Elementary School in Farmington, MN. Lewis sparks a love of reading, creativity, critical thinking, and interest in social justice in her school community with a variety of initiatives, including tech projects and a prom book fashion show.

READ: 2020 School Librarian of the Year Longlist

As School Librarian of the Year, Cicely is featured on the April 2020 cover of SLJ and will receive $2,500 and $2,500 worth of digital or print products for her library from Scholastic. Meadowcreek High School students will receive free books and an in-person visit from Schumacher and a Scholastic author.

“I am so honored to receive this prestigious award, and I plan to continue to advocate for students who are looking for answers, looking for a connection, and seeking to find themselves in books,” said Lewis. “I will use this platform to tell the world that every child deserves a certified school librarian in their school.”

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Kara Yorio

Kara Yorio (kyorio@mediasourceinc.com, @karayorio) is news editor at School Library Journal.

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