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The Second of our NSLPY Spotlight Posts October 10, 2013

Posted by Susan Ballard in Check this out!.
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Apologies for not posting this sooner, but at last here is the second in our spotlight on the 2013 NSLPY award winners. In the previous post we shared remarks made by Kay Wejrowski from Swan Valley High School, Saginaw MI at the AASL Awards Luncheon held July 1, at ALA Annual in Chicago, IL. While Kay is an inspiration for those who may not have the fanciest facility, our next example represents persistence of vision as we share the thoughts of Jennifer Jamison, school librarian at Pennsylvania Avenue School, Atlantic City, NJ. This was Atlantic City’s (and Jennifer’s) second time around in the application process. In the true spirit of reflective practice, and knowing that they were indeed on the right path, they took what they learned from the first experience and came out on top with their second application. Atlantic City is not the only community to find that the process of applying can truly help a school or district determine areas for improvement and by focusing in on them assure that, first and foremost, students and teachers get the very best, in addition to bringing home a well-deserved recognition from AASL.

National School Library Program of the Year, 2013

Jennifer Jamison

Pennsylvania Avenue School (PK-8), Atlantic City, NJ

Hi.I am so excited to be here today. First, I would like to take the three organizations that advocate vigorously for school libraries: ALA, AASL, and the New Jersey Association of School Librarians. Second, I want to thank the people who support and validate my vision: AASL president Susan Ballard, Katherine Lowe and the award committee, Follett Library Resources, Superintendent of Atlantic City Schools and 2011 AASL Distinguished Administrator Donna Haye, the late Anne Lofaro, Hilda Weisberg, Ann Martin-author of Award winning school library programs that was like my bible to create an exemplary program, Past president of NJASL Fran King, my darling husband Michael and my parents who flew in from Boston to be here with me today.

My passion to build the Pennsylvania Avenue school library program in Atlantic City NJ centers around the diversity of the students and faculty. By working together, the strength of our school library program recognized the uniqueness of the power of community. The reason our library flourished is because the students wanted to be part of something bigger than themselves. We all know that knowledge is power but the children in an urban environment experienced first-hand an inner power that transformed to desire. Their desire turned to inner strength that permeated the school library as a safe and nurturing place where they can celebrate their individualism freely.

Exemplary school library programs like those recognized today create an awareness of why school libraries are pivotal to transforming students to be life-long learners. It is interesting to note that through recent local media coverage, I have had board members as well as members from the South Jersey communities expressing disbelief that SCHOOL LIBRARIES like ours EXIST. We are no longer the traditional keeper of the books as we have evolved to a place for creative exploration and thinking. For example, our library lunch program was the talk of the school where a diverse group of new thinkers would do anything to get a pass to come to the library including skipping lunch, selling the passes to one another, or trading lunch passes for candy! Parents, teachers and administrators were amazed that our urban children’s top priority was to spend time in the school library exploring advance technologies, recommending books to others, and communicating responsibly while developing valuable social skills.

If I could give a little advice to my peers, the number one goal is to have administration support. My superintendent works tirelessly with the school board and the community to champion the importance of school libraries. I want to take this moment to sincerely thank Donna Haye for her support.

To quote Walt Disney…never be afraid to dream…through the doors of a school library, students become independent thinkers allowing them to find the unique beauty within themselves, thus setting the stage for them to be successful and accomplish their dreams.

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The NSLPY Award recognizes school library programs that meet the needs of the changing school and library environment. Exemplary school library programs ensure that the students and staff are effective users of ideas and information. These programs empower learners to be critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers and ethical users of information.

A recent press release (10/1/13) announcing that the online application for the 2014 NSLPY Award, with links to the same, can be accessed at http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2013/10/online-application-aasl-s-national-school-library-year-award-now-open …So what are you waiting for? Start the process today, and stay in touch for one more post with thoughts from our final NSLPY award recipient for 2013, Lauren Kniola, New Augusta South Elementary School, Indianapolis, IN.

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