Three School Librarian Models | Editorial

If you need a way to show your school administrators just how impactful school librarians can be, look no further than Ali Schilpp, Michelle Carton, and Cassy Lee—SLJ’s 2018 School Librarian of the Year, Champion of Civic Engagement, and Champion of Student Voice.

Ali Schilpp. Michelle Carton. Cassy Lee. These three amazing school leaders have been creating standout experiences for the kids they serve and making a world of difference in their lives along the way. Congratulations to each for their recognition here as (respectively) SLJ’s 2018 School Librarian of the Year, SLJ’s Champion of Civic Engagement, and SLJ’s Champion of Student Voice. If you need a way to show your school administrators just how impactful school librarians can be, look no further than these exemplars—and be sure to share their stories with the powers that be in your districts to advocate for more support.

Then, may this trio inspire your own work in this new school year. Now in its fifth year, and with the support of Scholastic Book Fairs and Scholastic Digital, SLJ’s School Librarian of the Year Award continues to celebrate and showcase the stellar work being done in K–12 schools large and small by innovators who make the best use of 21st-century tools and services to support multiple literacies. Schilpp, Carton, and Lee each raise the bar in settings that are as unique as their disparate locations could be.

When Schilpp, the library media specialist at Northern Middle School in Accident, MD, left the Baltimore area to become the first certified librarian for this rural school, she applied her broad perspective, which plays out in ambitious programming for her students. Across the country in San Francisco’s Chinese American International School (CAIS), Lee took on a newly created role in the dual language immersion middle school and has created a number of programs to support the school’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative. Up in Anchorage, AK, Carton offers the 350 children at Tudor Elementary School the tools they need to connect to the lower 48 states—and beyond. Libraries are often considered windows to the world, but our three honorees take that notion to new levels, each in her own way bringing the world to the students she serves, bridging barriers to connect them to all the complexity and wonder to be explored by engaged minds.

From left: Michelle Carton, SLJ's Champion of Civic Engagement; Ali Schilpp, SLJ’s 2018 School Librarian of the Year; Cassy Lee, SLJ's Champion of Student Voice.

In the process, kids are hardly passive participants. Starting local, Schilpp’s students literally helped make the library what it is—from the shelves on out. In turn, Lee’s student committee of “SLACkers” makes the school library hum with activity, including producing a weekly newscast. And the children in Carton’s school aren’t too young to learn what it takes to be global citizens and how their actions can make a difference for others when they band together. Take, for example, the time her students collected thousands of books to donate to children impacted by natural disaster and poverty.

When kids are empowered to create a better world, we all benefit. Count that as just one priceless outcome of exposure to these leading librarians. Then read on, and keep counting.


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