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Final in the NSLPY Series October 22, 2013

Posted by Susan Ballard in Check this out!.
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And now last, but not least, in our series that shares the thoughts of the 2013 National School Library Program of the Year recipients are the remarks of Lauren Kniola, School Librarian at the New Augusta South Elementary School in Indianapolis, IN. While Lauren rightfully credits the learning community she serves with being in her program’s corner and providing the requisite support and commitment needed to realize their shared vision of excellence and student achievement, Lauren is also an incredible example of a talented and dedicated school librarian who has earned the respect of many. Kathy Lowe, chair of the 2013 NSLPY Committee noted “Her colleagues see Lauren as a ‘real leader’ and her program was cited as the ideal of what a school library program should look like.”

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.

Read more about the process to apply in this press release announcing that the application for the 2014 NSLPY Award has been posted, with links to the same: http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2013/10/online-application-aasl-s-national-school-library-year-award-now-open

AASL School Library Program of the Year – Lauren Kniola

It is such an honor to be chosen as a recipient for the AASL National School Library Program of the Year Award. I know I need to say thank you to Follett Library Resources for sponsoring this prestigious award, but I’ll get to that in a moment. First, I need to say thank you to the folks that really made this award possible — the New Augusta South Elementary School teachers. Thank you to the teachers that I work with each and every day. Thank you to the teachers that believe in the importance of teaching inquiry skills to students because they know students need these skills in our ever-evolving technological world. Thank you to the teachers who fought for and supported keeping the New Augusta South library open access with flexible scheduling so that students can come any time they have a need to check out library books and teachers can bring classes to the library for inquiry when it fits in the curriculum, not just on an appointed day as a drop off special class. Thank you to the teachers who understand the power of collaboration and are willing to plan units of study with me that are based on the grade level standards, and incorporate the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. Thank you to the teachers for supporting the idea that students need to be given ownership to the library by being on library teams, such as the News Teams, Jr. Librarians, and the Electronic Bulletin Board Crew. Thank you to the teachers who are willing to try new technology so that students are motivated and engaged. Thank you to teachers who believe in modeling and teaching the reading of books, for learning and pleasure. Thank you to teachers who support and promote the New Augusta South library special reading programs – such as the Young Hoosier Book Award program celebrations and annual author visits- so that students get excited about reading and books. To say the least, I am privileged to work with an incredible group of teachers who support the implementation of a library program the way an awarding winning AASL library program is supposed to be implemented!

Now, back to the official thank-yous. Thank you to Follett Library Resources for sponsoring the AASL NSLPY award. This company’s conviction and willingness to financially recognize outstanding library programs as role models cannot go unmentioned. It is motivating when the business world sees and understands the importance of school libraries that make a difference.

It is essential to recognize the AASL guidelines that define the present and future direction of school library programs. These give librarians the support they need to go beyond the “basics”, to provide goals and priorities for those who want to establish the most effective school library programs.

It is also imperative that I thank the Administration in the Metropolitan School District of Pike Township where I work for supporting ideal library programs. The Pike Superintendent and School Board maintain certified librarians in each of the schools in our township. Librarians are supported by full time library assistants, so that the librarians can fulfill the teaching role assigned to them. (I happen to have an incredibly great media assistant who reads articles and watches webinars on ideal library programs, and takes on almost all the clerical jobs to allow me to spend most of my time teaching and with students.) In addition, New Augusta South has a principal that fully “gets” the advantages of having an open-access, flexibly scheduled library that supports collaboration.

Pike Township schools should also be acknowledged for being a unique school district because we have an “Inquiry Specialist” at the district level who acts as an instructional coach for the librarians, as well as all classroom instructors, teaching inquiry and integration of curriculum. This professional is devoted to keeping the librarians and libraries on top of their game, so to speak, so that we can continue to be leaders in library programs and advocacy in our state. It would behoove other districts to initiate this role model position.

To all the school librarians out there, thank you for continuing to hold fast in the ideals of our profession and not giving up on the vision of what an excellent media program should look like! We stand strong and united together in the belief that our children deserve the opportunity to grow to their fullest potential!

Receiving this NSLPY award made me reflect on all the factors that go into making a library program worthy of a national award. “It takes a village to raise a child” is often quoted by teachers, but I believe it can be tweaked for libraries: “It takes a village to support an ideal library program.” Thank you, village, for supporting us!

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