I’m a 2016 Library Journal Mover and Shaker!

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I’m beyond excited to finally announce that I’m a 2016 Library Journal Mover and Shaker. This has been a very hard secret to keep for so long. I’m extremely honored to represent the power of libraries in our world along with the many other talented individuals on this year’s list.  I have so much respect for the other librarians who have been on this prestigious list through the years, and it’s surreal to see my name alongside people who are my mentors and friends along with new inspiring people to discover.  I’m taking time to read each person’s profile and be inspired with each and every story.

To look at the map of movers, and see the number in Georgia bump up to 17 movers and shakers was a special moment. I’m honored to be one of the 17 Georgians across the 15 years of this award and 1 of about 750 movers and shakers around the globe.  Out of the 17 Georgians, only 3 of those are school librarians. This year’s list of 54 movers and shakers included only 5 school librarians.  Theses 5 librarians include the amazing Colleen Graves, whose makerspace leadership always inspire me to try something new. Also included is Sue Kowalski, who empowers her students to take charge in the library and is always thinking about how to grow the library program in the community.

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When I found out that I made the 2016 list, I immediately started wondering which category I would be placed in. That is one detail that you don’t find out until the very end. Now that I know I’m in the “community builder” category, I couldn’t be happier.

When I really look at the heart of what I do, it’s about creating communities of learners, dreamers, innovators, creators, and leaders. The library has never been just mine. I’m always looking for opportunities to increase access to resources and experiences for all of the members of our library. Whether it’s collaborating with Gretchen Thomas at the University of Georgia, Charlie Miller and Brad Hosack at Fliprgrid, Lindsey Hill at Evanced, Janet Geddis and the bookseller team at Avid Bookshop, Jim Boon and Amy Cox at Capstone Press, authors and illustrators, or my librarian colleagues around the country, miraculous things happen for the students, educators, and collaborators involved. We realize that we are never alone. Every time we connect in person or virtually, we realize that we are part of one big community and the words of Jenny Sue Kostecki Shaw’s Same, Same but Different  ring true for us all.  I feel like I have so much more to learn about building community within the walls of our school and beyond, and I can’t wait to see where we go in the coming years.

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I do want to pull back the curtain just a bit on what it was like to go through the process of being on the Movers and Shakers list. First, you are nominated. I am fortunate to know several people who nominated me, but I know that’s not always the case. I want to thank Charlie Miller, Lindsey Hill, Gretchen Thomas, Sherry Gick, and Ellen Sabatini for their nominations along with anyone else who may have submitted my name.

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In December, I got the email with an invitation to come to ALA Midwinter in Boston for the photo shoot and first time meeting several of the 2016 Movers and Shakers. I was so excited to attend my first Midwinter and get to tour the massive exhibit hall.  I arrived a little before registration started, so I had a chance to tour a little of Boston.

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One of my favorite spots was the public library. I loved touring the old and new spaces and thinking about what libraries have done for communities throughout the years and how the spaces are always evolving to meet the needs of the library members.

I of course also had to visit the Make Way for Ducklings ducks in the Public Garden.

As soon as I went to registration, I saw several librarians I knew, and it was so hard not to talk about why I was really at midwinter. Luckily, I did have a meeting to talk about transforming libraries with Miguel Figueroa, so I had that to talk about. I got to meet some superstar authors and illustrators like Jeff Kinney, Herve Tullet, Mac Barnett, and Jory John.

The night before the photo shoot, I went to the Candlewick party at Fenway Park. Being in this historic stadium at night and completely empty was unbelievable. We dined on ballpark food along with about 20 authors and illustrators including Peter & Paul Reynolds and Gregory Maguire.

On the morning of the photo shoot, I made my way to the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. I wore my red shirt, Dr Seuss Converse shoes, “expect the miraculous” bracelet, and carried my copy of Flora and Ulysses. The lobby was breathtaking and I was extremely nervous, so I took a few moments to look around before heading up to the suite.

When I finally decided to go to the room, I was relieved to see other movers in the room so it made the shoot less intimidating. There were two rooms setup with backdrops, and the photographer and other staff were very helpful in making the shoot fun and special. We took many different group shots along with our individual pictures. While we waited, we got to learn a bit about one another and make some connections.  I got to chat with fellow teacher librarian Sue Kowalski and snap a quick selfie too.

I also met Stephanie Anderson, and after chatting, we realized we had a mutual connection with Janet Geddis and Avid Bookshop.

The rest of the conference was filled with great conversations about libraries and celebrating up and coming books. I was glad that I flew Southwest just so I could pack books into my two checked bags.

Also, within this same time frame, I had a long phone interview with Carly Okyle, the writer for my profile. It was fun to chat with her again since she also wrote the article for my SLJ School Librarian of the Year finalist profile. She’s a big fan of our library program, Check out how the final article turned out.

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The print copies have arrived!

Waiting on announcement day was really hard, and it was a huge relief to finally have the secret out and celebrate with people who care about my work. I can’t even begin to list all of the social media posts that I received from friends in my PLN and people who have found some inspiration I’ve done.

My wife brought me red flowers to school and snuck up behind me playing 100% by Mariah Carey.  It was my own singing telegram.  The work we do is hard, and it is rare that we get thanked or celebrated.  However, anything someone did for me or said on release day was special to me, and reminded me how we really need to stop and celebrate educators more often.  On March 28th, my school is having an “Andy Plemmons Day” where all are encouraged to wear red!  I look forward to that special day of celebrating with you Barrow community.

Red flowers from my wife on this special day #ljmover16 #tlchat #librarian #leadership #congratulations

A photo posted by Andy Plemmons (@andy.plemmons) on

In June, I will travel to my first ALA annual in Orlando. There will be a Movers and Shakers luncheon that will reunite Movers and Shakers from previous years along with the 2016 winners.

As always, it is incredible to be recognized for your work, but these awards are really a celebration of libraries and the members who make up each of these libraries represented.  There are many more school and public librarians out there that need to be on this list, and I hope we see even more of those people on this list in years to come. Thank you for following along with me in this journey. Now, forward we go to the next adventure expecting the miraculous the whole way.IMG_8827

Flipgrid Rolled Out the Red Carpet for the Barrow Peace Prize

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For the past 2 weeks, people from around the world have been viewing and voting on our 2nd graders’ Barrow Peace Prize project. Across the course of the project, students have:

  • researched one of 6 people from history using PebbleGo, Encyclopedia Britannica, books, and other resources
  • developed criteria for a peace prize
  • written a persuasive piece about why someone should vote for their person from history
  • created a piece of art to accompany their writing
  • recorded their writing using Flipgrid
  • skyped with the creators of PebbleGo to learn about how this important research tool was made

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All of the student work was pulled together onto a Smore so that it could easily be shared with the world, and people voted for the Barrow Peace Prize via a Google form.  Across 2 weeks, the student videos had 3,413 views, 1,161 likes, and visits from over 165 different locations around the world.

A very special ceremony was held at our school to announce the 2016 Barrow Peace Prize winner. We typically Skype with the Flipgrid team to announce he winners, but this year when I called to plan our Skype, I was surprised to learn that the Flipgrid team had much bigger plans for this year’s ceremony.  Charlie Miller and Brad Hosack, the creators of Flipgrid, flew down from Minnesota to join the celebration. They wanted the celebration to be like a mini Academy Awards. They rented a red carpet to roll out at the entrance to the library. They also bought enough pizza and drinks for all the kids, teachers, and families. In addition to the Barrow Peace Prize, we handed out special certificates to students which were chosen by teachers. The Flipgrid team also designed their own 3D printed award and gave it to 5 students chose by the entire Flipgrid team.

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Ahead of the event, the teachers sent out an RSVP invite to families so that we could get an estimate for chairs and pizza. We didn’t tell the kids very much about the ceremony except that they might want to dress up. The teachers all decided that they would dress for the Academy Awards, so I of course had to pull out my tux and red vest for the event.  I printed out all of the certificates to hand to students and shared the doc with the Flipgrid team so that they could announce the winners. The day before the event, Charlie and Brad flew down. They took care of the red carpet, balloons, pizza, and drinks.  Mr. Jordan, our student support technician, and I prepped the library.  When Charlie and Brad arrived, we setup the red carpet with some spotlights and put out the balloons.

The ceremony was the most special ceremony I’ve ever been a part of. The teachers, students, and families entered the library with movie theme music playing and took time to strike a pose on the red carpet for pictures. We also had many other special guests including Carol Williams for the CCSD Board of Education and Gretchen Thomas from UGA.

We connected with the Flipgrid team in Minnesota via Skype so that they could be a part of the entire ceremony. I gave a quick overview of the project for families to hear, and then we launched into awards.  Our awards were presented by two very special Minion guests, since Charlie and Brad weren’t quite ready🙂

The Flipgrid team gave students all of the statistics of their videos so that they heard the impact that their work was having around the world. Team members took turns announcing student winners in 5 categories, and students came up to receive their awards from the Minions with the help of my wife, Denise Plemmons.

  • Outstanding Opener: For creating an opening statement that hooks your audience into your writing. Congratulations to Daly, Makenzie, Penn, Martavius, and Morgan
  • Prolific Persuader: For using multiple strategies to persuade your audience to vote for your person from history. Congratulations to Joshua, Ben, Kate, Copeland, and Cara.
  • Radical Researcher: For combing through multiple resources to find the most accurate facts to include in your writing. Congratulations to Isobel, KP, Kenderrious, Josie, and Terry
  • Dynamic  Designer: For creating a dynamic image to represent your person from history and engage your audience. Congratulations to Janae, Julian, Tad, Katherine, and Jeffrey
  • Powerful Presenter: For speaking confidently and powerfully as you shared your person from history with the world. Congratulations to Oriana, Ava, JD, Huda, and Blake

The Flipgrid Team handed out their unique 3D printed awards to Eli, Maggie, Iayah, and Zykurea.

The thing that I loved the most is how excited kids were for one another as they received an award. Each winning name brought on a round of cheers and applause almost to the point that we couldn’t hear the next name being read. I love that this project brings students from multiple classrooms together through the common goal of celebrating a person from history. That teamwork that was a part of the entire project, we still evident as we celebrated one another at the ceremony.

Students had a chance to ask the Flipgrid team questions. I always cherish this chance for students to step up to the camera and speak directly to the people who created the tools that they use. Students had such awesome questions such as “How do the videos we record get onto Flipgrid?” and “What are all of the jobs at Flipgrid?” The team took time to fully answer each question in the most personal and age-appropriate way.

Jim Leslie, co-founder of Vidku, talked to the kids about how they were all as much a part of Flipgrid as the people who created it. He stressed the importance of student voice and how much of an impact these students have had on the people who work at Vidku and Flipgrid.

Charlie Miller and Brad Hosack were able to arrive after the Minions left the building. Charlie talked to the kids about how tools like Flipgrid give every person an equal voice. He emphasized to students how many thousands of people had viewed their videos and they are only 7 or 8 years old. He stressed that if you can have that kind of impact at such an early age, then imagine the impact you can have as you grow. The messages shared by Charlie, Brad, Jim, and the whole team are something that I stress to our kids every single day, but it was so powerful for students, teachers, families, board members, and other special guests to be in the same room together hearing this message from a company who truly cares about its users.

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At the very end of our ceremony, we announced the 2016 Barrow Peace Prize. We would like to give a big congratulations to Ruby Bridges for winning the 2016 Barrow Peace Prize. The 18 students who researched her received a copy of a 3D printed medal that was designed by 3 second grade students. Each classroom also received a copy of the medal along with Charlie and Brad of Flipgrid.

Afterward, I had several families come up to me and say that they had no idea what to expect at this ceremony, but they were blown away by the generosity of Flipgrid and the work of the students. So many students were celebrated, and families and students couldn’t help but smile and get excited. We enjoyed celebrating the winning videos by eating pizza. Students returned to their classrooms to watch more of the winning videos, which Brad pulled onto one grid for us.

We can’t thank Charlie, Brad, and all of the Flipgrid and Vidku team for making our 2016 Barrow Peace Prize project the most memorable one so far. You are a company who listens to your users, celebrates their stories, and amplifies the impact students have on the world. Thank you.

 

 

Celebrating Reading and Learning Styles with Bookapalooza

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This year, the school library media specialists in our district decided to start a new reading competition called Bookapalooza. In the past, we have participated in Battle of the Books, where students read a set list of books and compete on teams to answer questions about specific details from the books. We had lots of discussion about trying a reading competition that offered students more choice in the books that they read as well as gave students a chance to show off their creativity and interests in a variety of categories rather than just answering factual questions about books.

A subcommittee of our group met to work out some logistics of how a new reading competition might work, and a new Bookapalooza website was created.

Students in 3rd-5th grade could compete in the competition. They could choose any book, author, or genre to read and create a project around. Five categories were created to give students a variety of choices to celebrate their own learning preferences: Art, Performance, Trifold, Writing, and Technology.

In the past, teams of students have worked together in Battle of the Books. Bookapalooza did allow for some collaboration but most projects were meant to be done by individuals. I had to think about organizing our school competition in a whole new way. I’m not sure that I really did the best job, but it definitely was a great first try. In November, I started sharing with students about what Bookapalooza was all about. Some teachers brought their whole class to the library while others just showed a short intro video.

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I created a Google form where students could sign up for Bookapalooza and indicate the category they were most likely going to enter along with the title of the book. This could of course change, but the form allowed me to get a good ideas of how many students were going to enter the contest and to make sure we had projects in all of the 5 categories. I was also able to make an email list from this form so that I could email the participants with updates on the competition.

In the past, I’ve held practices for Battle of the Books during lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but this type of competition really didn’t lend itself to that structure. Instead, I blocked off various times on the library calendar for Bookapalooza help sessions. Teachers could sign students up to come during these times or they were welcome to just drop by to ask questions or work. Some teachers chose to the do the competition with their whole class so they scheduled time on the library calendar specifically for their class.

I also contacted our collaborating teachers to ask if they would help each grade level with projects. Natalie Hicks, Jan Mullins, and Heather Carlson were instrumental in making sure that each grade level had representation in the competition.

As the deadline approached, I checked in via email with students and teachers and the projects started to come in. I cleared off the library shelves for projects to be displayed. As they came in, I numbered the projects for judging.  For digital projects, I created another Google form for students to submit links to projects. I put all of these links on a Google doc that could be displayed on each of our projection boards for viewing. The day after the deadline, we held our school competition, which meant that classes were welcome to come through and look at all of the projects and a team of 5 judges used rubrics to judge and rank the projects. We had to select one project from each category to move on to the district competition at the Athens Clarke County Library.

Some of our technology projects included:

Some of our performance projects included:

Some of our art projects included:

Some of our trifolds included:

Since we had so many outstanding projects, I asked judges to write notes about things that stood out about various projects and we awarded many special certificates and bookmarks to students who didn’t necessarily place “first” in their category.

Congratulations to the following projects for moving forward:

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Our school level winners moved on to the district competition at the Athens Clarke County library where we were able to enjoy projects from most of the elementary schools in our district. Our school technology project placed 3rd n the district and our school art project placed 1st in the district.  Congratulations to all of the students in Clarke County who took time to share their love of books, their personal talents, and their creativity through numerous Bookapalooza projects.  We look forward to growing this celebration next year.

 

Congratulations to the Flipgrid 2015 Graduation Voices Winners, Top Voices, and More

I was honored to be one of the judges in Flipgrid’s inaugural Graduation Voices contest.  Graduates of high school and college contributed their voices to two grids to complete the sentence, “To me, graduation means…”  Almost 200 graduates added their voices between the two grids, and I enjoyed watching all of them along with fellow judges Shannon Miller and Alec Couros. Congratulations to the two winners, Eliot and Jay.  They will each receive a new Apple watch.  You can read the full post on Flipgrid’s blog. I also send a huge congratulations to the other top voices on the grids.

Judges’ top choices for Graduation Voices 2015

High School

Watch Ami’s video here. Watch Anthony’s video here. Watch Ben’s video here. Watch Guillermo’s video here.  Watch Kyle’s video here.

College

Watch Abbie’s video here. Watch Alyson’s video here. Watch Jamie’s video here. Watch Liz’s video here.  To view all entries to the #grad15 grid, click here. Since I had the pleasure of watching every single video, I heard many standout voices.  Every video was special in some way, and some had me laughing out loud.  Graduation means so many things to so many people.  We all might think of it as closing one chapter and starting another, but most of us have other reasons we love graduation.  High school and college are a time to find yourself and further develop yourself as an individual.  Bravo to these students for letting their personalities shine through.  I want to recognize a few of the voices that made me smile in their own way.

Neil’s: I’m done with school!

You know you all want to binge watch Netflix and eat some junk food at 3AM.

How about the freedom to buy baked goods?

The end to regulated lunches?

Here’s to sleeping in!

Spread your wings and prepare to fly from sea to shining sea

Time to do whatever you want

The end to pointless homework

Getting to go home!

Get on board that train

I wish all of these graduates the best as they continue on in what life has in store for them next.  Go out and change the world!

Proud to Be One of the NSBA 20 to Watch in Education Technology

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Last week, some exciting news was released.  I have been named one of the National School Board Association’s 20 to Watch.  I will travel to Atlanta, GA on March 16-17 to meet the other 19 and be recognized.  Each time that a recognition such as this comes my way, I know that it isn’t just mine.  It also belongs to all of the students, teacher, and families that I work with.  It also emphasizes the power of libraries in schools.

It has been so much fun to hear from so many of my colleagues and friends about this honor.

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Here is the official press release from my school district.

Barrow Elementary’s Andy Plemmons Named to the “20 to Watch” Education Technology Leaders by the National School Boards Association

 Writer/Contact: Anisa Sullivan Jimenez, (706) 546-7721, ext. 18271, jimenezan@clarke.k12.ga.us

 (Athens, Ga.) — Barrow Elementary School Media Specialist Andy Plemmons was today named by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) to their list of “20 to Watch” top technology educators for 2014-15. Those on the list are being recognized for their ability to inspire colleagues to explore and embrace innovative digital learning solutions that lead to stronger teaching and learning practices.

“It is such an honor to receive this national recognition because it means that my library, my students and my teachers are reaching a wider audience,” said Plemmons. “We are living in a time where now more than ever we can harness the power of technology to collaborate within and beyond our walls. Our students are more than just consumers. They are creators who have a voice, and I am thankful to work in a district where I can walk into my library and expect the miraculous every day.”

Plemmons was also a finalist for School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year, sponsored by Scholastic Library Publishing. Commendations were given to only three librarians in the U.S. He is also Clarke County’s only Certified Google Teacher.

“The entire Barrow community is proud that Andy was chosen as a ‘20 to Watch’ education technology leader,” said Principal Ellen Sabatini. “Andy’s collaborative leadership style supports teachers as they develop their own skills in orchestrating technology-based projects and lessons that engage students in authentic work. With Andy’s vision, encouragement and strong belief in taking risks, we are all expanding our use of innovative technologies.”

Some examples of creative work taking place in the media center under his leadership include:

  • Pre-K students used Storybird to create digital narratives.
  • Kindergartners used Chromville to augment reality and inspire narrative writing. They also used Padlet to write and collaborate with students from other states.
  • 1st Graders used Google Earth to preview a walking field trip.
  • 2nd Graders created a black history campaign using Flipgrid, Smore and social media, and held a Skype celebration with the developers.
  • 3rd Graders studied the art of Jerry Pinkney, took a field trip to the High Museum and used iMovie to publish their own versions of folktales. They also designed and printed 3D gems after a study of rocks and minerals in conjunction with Aurum Studios.
  • 4th Graders created multiple digital projects in an online museum that tied into social studies standards.
  • 5th Graders experienced the events of 9/11 through a day-long exploration using a variety of texts and collaborated on a video with an elementary school in California.
  • Students participated in the nationwide Hour of Code and with the use of Google Hangout, Plemmons collaborated with librarians in five states to plan the day.
  • Students participated in World Read Aloud Day, Poem in Your Pocket Day and more through the use of Skype and Google Hangout.

“Andy Plemmons is an innovator and leader that makes a difference in our district, state and nation,” said Superintendent Philip D. Lanoue. “He sets the highest standard, but what is most impressive is how he seamlessly blends innovative digital learning environments with ensuring he has a personal relationship with each child.”

The school was also one of the featured schools for the 2012 Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education Bus Tour, due to Plemmons’ leadership in the exemplary use of technology. He is also a past recipient of the Foundation for Excellence’s Kathryn H. Hug Instructional Leadership Award.

This is the ninth year of the NSBA “20 to Watch” program, created in 2006. This year’s honorees are being recognized at the 2015 Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) Conference on March 16 in Atlanta.

“This year’s ‘20 to Watch’ honorees highlight the kind of exciting innovations that exist throughout America’s public schools. These teachers and administrators, with support from their school boards, share a vision for learning that will prepare students for future success,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA’s Executive Director. “These inspirational pioneers are having a positive impact on the districts they serve.”

The Clarke County School District is home to the 2015 National Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Philip D. Lanoue. It is also home to the #1 Career Academy in Georgia (2015), a designation from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. CCSD was named the state’s Title I Distinguished District for closing the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students. The district is a state-level model technology school district, 2013 and 2014 NAMM Best Communities in Music Education and has a nationally innovative Professional Development School District partnership with the University of Georgia. Graduates are offered upwards of $3 million in scholarships annually, not including the HOPE. For more information, please visit www.proudtobeccsd.com.

Edublog Awards 2014: A Great Source for New Professional Learning

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Since 2004, the Edublog Awards have been a source of community support and recognition within the education world.  It’s a time when educators nominate other educators and tools for their outstanding work and contributions throughout the year.  Being nominated by your peers means the world to each nominee because it validates the contributions and sacrifices of each person as well as all of the times that nominees have second guessed themselves.

The Edublog Awards, or Eddies, are also a wealth of resources to push your thinking as an educator.  Each year, I see familiar faces and tools in the nominees, but I also find someone or a resource that is new to me.  I invite you to take time to visit the nominees.  Learn from these amazing educators and tools.  If you have a moment, show some love and appreciation by voting.  Voting is simple.  Once you login with your facebook, Twitter, Google, or listly account, you can vote for as many nominees as you want by clicking on the thumbs up.

If you enjoy reading this blog, it is nominated in 2 categories.

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Vote for best library/librarian blog

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Vote for best educational use of media

 

2014 SLJ School Librarian of the Year Finalist

An incredible honor happened this week.  I was named a finalist for the 2014 School Library Journal & Scholastic School Librarian of the Year.  My Twitter and Facebook feeds have been flooded with congratulations and I’ve received numerous emails and phone calls as well.  Being recognized is such an honor, but more importantly to me, recognitions like this highlight the powerful work that takes place in school libraries around the world who have librarians who are connected educators constantly staying on the cutting edge of innovation, advocating for students, and sharing their work for the good of libraries worldwide.  I stand tall with Michelle Colte, School Librarian of the Year, and Colleen Graves, co-finalist.

You can read the full SLJ story here.

Read about Michelle Colt.

Read about Colleen Graves.

Read about me.

Here’s the official press release.

School Library Journal and Scholastic Announce Winners of the Inaugural School Librarian of the Year Award Library Media Specialist Michelle Colte is recognized for her innovative use of technology and exceptional

NEW YORK, NY – September 3, 2014 – School Library Journal today announced the winners of the first annual School Librarian of the Year Award, which honors K–12 school library professionals for outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of 21st- century tools and services to engage students toward fostering multiple literacies. Michelle Colte of Hale Kula Elementary School in Wahiawa, HI, was named the winner and will receive a $2,500 cash award and $2,500 worth of materials of her choosing from Scholastic Library Publishing, the award’s founding sponsor. Additionally, Andy Plemmons of David C. Barrow Elementary School in Athens, GA and Colleen Graves of Lamar Middle School in Flower Mound, TX, were both recognized as finalists and will each receive $500 in Scholastic materials of their choice. All three school librarians are currently featured in the September 2014 issue of School Library Journal, available now with winner Michelle Colte as the cover story, and on SLJ.com.

A panel of school librarians, School Library Journal editors and other industry professionals from Scholastic and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) determined the winners of the award. All nominations were judged based on several criteria, including creativity in programming, exemplary use of technology and integration of library resources with curricula.

To learn more about the School Librarian of the Year Award and its honorees, visit http://www.slj.com/librarianoftheyear.

Quotes about the School Librarian of the Year Award:

Michelle Colte, 2014 School Librarian of the Year, stated, “I believe that being a librarian is about so much more than providing access to information and promoting literacy – it’s about helping people make connections and share knowledge within the community and beyond. I am honored to be named School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year, and I hope that my passion for learning will inspire others in my field to push themselves, their fellow educators and students in their schools creatively.”

Kathy Ishizuka, Executive Editor of School Library Journal, said, “This inaugural award is a unique opportunity to highlight the work of school librarians who help K–12 students gain critical literacy skills, discover great literature, and engage personal, creative expression, using technology. School Library Journal is pleased to honor these exemplars of the profession, underscoring the important role of librarians and media specialists in fostering future generations and bettering the greater community.

Allison Henderson, Vice President and General Manager of Scholastic Library Publishing, shared, “It’s an honor to recognize and celebrate the innovative and dedicated work school librarians are doing to engage students, foster literacy and encourage lifelong learners through technology. Scholastic is thrilled to sponsor the School Librarian of the Year Award and we look forward to seeing how the winners, all of whom creatively and passionately have implemented exciting ideas in their schools, continue to inspire their students as well as their fellow school librarians.”

About the 2014 School Librarian of the Year Winner and Finalists:

2014 School Librarian of the Year Michelle Colte, who has served as the library media specialist at Hale Kula Elementary School in Wahiawa, HI for nine years, is a passionate advocate of integrating technology into instruction as well as building community. Her efforts and accomplishments have included:

  • Emphasizing the importance of playful learning through initiatives such as Hour of Code, where students learn the fundamentals of computer programming;
  • enhancing her library’s technological capacity by actively seeking out grants for netbooks and tablets;
  • working hand-in-hand with teachers to incorporate technology into instruction through the use of student-developed websites and fostering collaboration through Google Apps;
  • developing a sense of “ohana,” or family, in the library by regularly coordinating school events to bring together students, staff and parents;
  • understanding her school’s community, which predominantly serves military families and providing resources specific to their needs, both in the library and through its online portals; and
  • sharing best practices with other educators throughout Hawaii and nationally through social media and as a frequent presenter at tech and education conferences.

Finalist Andy Plemmons of David C. Barrow Elementary School in Athens, GA, aims to enrich classroom instruction with lessons and activities from his school’s media center program, focused on empowering students to experiment with new technologies. He continuously encourages students to use various apps and social media channels, not only to create content, but to share their creations with fellow classmates and the community. As a lifelong learner himself, Plemmons understands the importance of professional collaboration and often presents at conferences or webinars.

Finalist Colleen Graves of Lamar Middle School in Flower Mound, TX, established a Makerspace and introduced a series of Maker Monday workshops at her school where students have the opportunity to design and create during activities such as app-making. An early adapter of new technologies and programs, Graves shares her knowledge by organizing “lunch and learn” sessions where students and staff discover innovative strategies using programs such as GarageBand, Google Sites and more.

Each of the honorees provides a unique look into what a modern-day school librarian’s role is in today’s schools. To learn more about the winners and their accomplishments, visit http://www.slj.com/librarianoftheyear.