|Sue Kowalski of Pine Grove Middle School in East Syracuse Minoa|
Sue Kowalski of Pine Grove Middle School in East Syracuse Minoa recently won the 2011 National School Library Program of the Year (NSLPY) award from AASL (the American Association of School Librarians). This award comes with $10,000 to use for the library program.
Last year, East Syracuse Minoa’s superintendent, Donna DeSiato, met the AASL executive director, Julie Walker, at a Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) meeting and learned about the NSLPY award. DeSiato immediately recommended that Kowalski apply, recognizing Kowalski’s leadership and success as the librarian at Pine Grove.
It took about six months to prepare the application and collect letters of endorsement. After Kowalski was notified that she was a finalist, a four person committee from AASL visited the school and interviewed some of the library’s stakeholders.
Kowalski said she has used the NSLPY rubric (available here) for years as a self-evaluation tool and plan for improvement.
Besides student achievement data and informal conversations, Kowalski also evaluates the impact of her work with student and teacher surveys. 247 students (of about 800 in the school) filled out self-evaluation surveys, answering open-ended questions like what they felt were their weaknesses and strengths in the research process.
She feels that the plan for the library program must be aligned with the school improvement plan, the school district plan, and core standards. The library program must be a part of the existing umbrella initiatives of the school and district, as well as fully integrated into the community.
Kowalski says the most important thing to do in order to get the community invested in the library is to listen. She attends as many teacher meetings, administrator meetings, local events, and other forums for discussion as possible so that she can find out where perceived gaps are. Kowalski described herself as a “conduit of inside scoop,” in that by listening to what teachers are doing, she can help make connections between teachers and improve their collaboration.
Examples of Kowalski’s programs include: