SLJ Talks to Three Past Winners of the School Librarian of the Year Award

Taking pride in a job well done is a professional triumph—and when the hard work is honored with an award nominated by one’s esteemed peers, the gratification is that much sweeter. Here’s what three past winners have to say about the award and their dedication to their work.

 


SLJ’s School Librarian of the Year Award, sponsored by
Scholastic, recognizes distinction in the field.

 

Taking pride in a job well done is a professional triumph—and when the hard work is honored with an award nominated by one’s esteemed peers, the gratification is that much sweeter.

This is the feeling no doubt which accompanies winning SLJ’s School Librarian of the Year Award, now in its  fifth year. Add to this SLJ‘s enduring partnership with Scholastic and you have a recipe for success.  “We’re proud to raise awareness of the unbelievably important work librarians do to support literacy and the cultivation of curious, informed thinkers,” says Allison Henderson, vice president, Scholastic.


Here’s what three past winners have to say about the award and their dedication to their work.
 

Tamiko Brown, 2017 winner Librarian, 
Ed White E-STEM Magnet School in El Lago, TX

 

Tamiko Brown’s positive outlook shines through her work: “It’s an exciting time to be a librarian because the library is a place for inquiry, inspiration and innovation,” she shares.

Brown adds, “Social media has made it possible to collaborate with other librarians who play a vital role in literacy leadership and developing real-world skills that students need to flourish.”

Among Brown’s many accomplishments: creating a journalism club and starting a podcast, Mix It Up. She also makes savvy book recommendations, including Big Ideas That Changed the World: Rocket to the Moon.

Brown’s love of books extends to her advice to first-time librarians. “Take time to shelve your own books so you know the collection—and try to start clubs,” she says.

Brown feels her award has lent gravitas to her profession. “I see the importance of talking about my work so people don’t make outdated assumptions—and this award shines a light on library programs everywhere."

Ali Schilpp, 2018 winner Media Specialist,
Northern Middle School in Accident, Maryland

 

Ali Schilpp’s perspective on libraries today? “They’re needed more than ever as they’re a place where kids make connections to literature and life,” she says. 

Popular books in her library include Lunch Lady, Guts, New Kid and It’s Trevor Noah . Her students also Skype with authors, including Debbie Levy and Chris Grabenstein. “And I’m a fan of Jason Reynolds—he has the gift of a concise voice of our time,” she adds.

Schilpp urges new librarians to develop a rapport with students. “Standing up for your mission is [also] important since you’ll consider your library and the kids like they’re your own.” She also advises her colleagues to team up. “It’s these collaborations that make the library an engaging learning space.”

As an award winner, Schilpp is grateful for the solidarity and inclusion that she’s been shown. “This honor has opened the door to visitors and put our middle school on the map!”

Michelle Colte, 2014 winner Librarian,
Hale Kula Elementary School in Wahiawa, Hawaii

 

“They [libraries] must be in a constant state of evolution, changing to meet the needs of their community,” says Michelle Colte. One way to make connections: embrace the power of stories. “We’ve always been telling stories to communicate and share our history because stories make us human,” she says.

In Colte’s library, her students tell their own stories through makerspace creations, building with Legos, shadow puppet theater and video games. Students then present their work during “lunch time pop-ups” and relish these chances to share their talents, she notes.

Colte suggests that first-year librarians draw on local talent from artists, architects and musicians. “Find people willing to share their trades to create teachable moments and then post photos on Instagram to show what’s happening in your library.”

Colte values the connections she’s made since winning her award. “This synergy motivated me to seek National Board Certification which helped me personalize library instruction and programming in my community.”


SPONSORED BY SCHOLASTIC

 

 

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