7 HCPS Librarians Nominated for VAASL’s School Librarian of the Year for the James Region–Pt.2
Henrico County Public Schools have a plethora of wonderful librarians and seven of them have been nominated for VAASL’s School Librarian of the Year for the James Region. The following is the second of multiple posts that includes questions and answers from each of them about the award. Congratulations to them all and make sure to check back for the rest of the interviews!
See Part 1 here:
Can you tell me about your library and what you believe are the best programs or lessons that you have done?
Our library has been functioning for over 50 years in this building. We have a lot of room, and that, plus the age of the facility, left us with quite a weeding job when we made that a priority about 3 years ago. We now have a more modern and aligned non-fiction section, and that, plus our work in fiction, has produced a more relevant collection of about 8,000 books.
One really fun cross-curricular sequence of instruction that we do involves our Humanities 7th graders. They read Rocket Boys/October Sky by Homer Hickam with their Language A teachers. Their pacing guide for Humanities introduces the Cold War historical era while they are reading that, which fills in the back story on the book they’re reading. With their great physical science teachers, they design and build rockets that we launch on the front lawn of the school in the spring. The library gets to work with these students to tie the whole cross curricular unit together, through research, and note-taking and citation lessons. It’s great fun, hands-on, product oriented, and lets the library work with 300 kids over several weeks. Plus, how many library units end with a rocket launch?
How long have you been a school librarian? At your current school? I have worked for HCPS for 18 years, and the last 8, the best 8, have been serving as a school librarian at Moody Middle School.
Why do you think you were nominated for the award? Having a strong relationship with your building principal is huge. I’ve been very lucky to have worked with several principals who understand the value that the library program and library staff can add to the school. With that kind of buy-in, a school librarian is given an opportunity to shine. My principal believes in me, believes in our results, and felt motivated to let other people know what he thinks about Moody’s library program, so he decided to nominate me for the award.
What does the award mean to you? Being nominated is a humbling process. You are called upon to detail your methods and others are asked to write about you, as well. To me, it means a lot, because it is an affirmation of what I try to accomplish professionally in my school library. The list of nominees looks like a bunch of Henrico school library superstars, and it means a lot to see my name on that list this year.
Anything you else you want to say about your library, school, or the award. It is important to note that I’d get very little done if I didn’t have my co-librarian, Lenora Dinunzi. We each have strengths and interests in different areas, and that’s how we cover the needs of 1,050 students and 50 teachers. Lenora and I are very lucky to work with an extremely competent library assistant, Mrs. Beverley Dale. Beverley’s experience as a middle and high school English teacher provides the library staff, teachers, and students a great resource in many important areas. We make a great team.
I am in my twelfth year as the librarian at Holladay E.S. Being nominated for School Librarian of the Year by my principal has been a tremendous honor. It was such an affirmation to me of the goals that I am striving to meet at Holladay E.S. I care deeply for the students at Holladay and I want them to succeed. I do all that I can to help them enjoy literature and reading because reading is an essential part of life. Because I love what I do, time has flown during the eighteen years that I have been teaching as an elementary school librarian.
I especially enjoy helping students develop their research skills. This starts in kindergarten where I model research with the students and as a group we seek to research answers to some basic questions. In first grade, the process progresses where the students become somewhat more independent in their research. During lessons, I ask the students to think about what it is that they would like to know about a particular subject. They begin to formulate their own questions. There needs to be constant development of questioning skills. I was so encouraged this year with some students’ questions, when after reading the Virginia Readers’ Choice book Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore, a student asked an unsolicited question about ducks. He wondered, “How do ducks eat?” We had been addressing some other elements in the story, but I was so excited to see that he was coming up with his own question, and it was not the typical easy question like “What do ducks eat?” In another class a student wondered, “How do ducks swim?” It is very rewarding to me to see the students grow in questioning skills and then be able to teach them how to find answers to their questions in reliable sources as the research process unfolds for them.
Reading Olympics is a program that the library runs for all of our fourth and fifth grade students. The children are placed on teams and then they work together to collectively read from a list of 30 books. The students must each read five books to be in the competition in the spring. My assistant and I so enjoy seeing the students get excited about reading, and we love this program because all of our students have an opportunity to participate.