Your 2017 AASL Social Media Superstars!

AASL’s newest recognition program, Social Media Superstars, honors school library professionals who enrich the profession and its work on behalf of students by sharing information, expertise, ideas, encouragement, dialog and inspiration widely via a variety of social media channels. After reviewing all of the endorsements left by peers and the original nominations, the Social Media Recognition Task Force is proud to announce the following AASL Social Media Superstars:


Sensational Student Voice: Andy Plemmons

Andy Plemmons is the school library media specialist at David C. Barrow Elementary in Athens, GA. His library program is grounded in transliteracy, participatory culture, and students as creators of content shared with the global community. His students Skype with authors, guest speakers, and the developers of the tech tools that they use in class. He also collaborates with libraries around the country, and is co-organizer of an annual nationwide online read aloud, giving his own students and students from around the country a chance to interact and share. He is a master at empowering student voice. For example, he has his 2nd grade students nominate a favorite figure for a “Barrow Peace Prize” by recording their nominations on a Flipgrid that is then read and commented on by people from around the world. He shares on his library blog, Twitter, and Google+.

@plemmonsa  |  Expect the Miraculous blog  |  Google+  |  Library Instagram


Advocacy AmbassadorSara Kelly Johns

Sara Kelly Johns is a retired school librarian, online instructor for the Syracuse iSchool, and a school library program consultant and speaker. She is a member of ALA Council and a recent member of the ALA Executive Board. Sara has served as President of AASL, the New York Library Association, and NYLA/SSL (then NYLA/SLMS) affiliate. She is currently a member of the ALA Presidential Initiative for Julie Todaro, the AASL Standards Implementation Task Force, and has been the co-chair of the NYLA/SSL Leadership Institute since 1991. From her nomination statement, we learn: School librarians turn to her for information, perspective, clarification, and inspiration. She is an invaluable source for learning and understanding libraries, policy, trends, and education for the library community across the country. Sara consistently speaks, presents, teaches, and best of all rallies others into ACTION! She continues to light the way for the impact of libraries.

Facebook: Sara Kelly Johns  |  NYLA/ SSL Facebook Group  |  @skjohns  |  Frugal School Librarian


Tech Troubadour: Krista Welz

Krista Welz, recently named a 2017 Mover & Shaker by Library Journal, is media specialist at North Bergen High School, NJ, where she has revitalized the library with grants, service, and outstanding programming. That’s quite an accomplishment for a school librarian of just 3 years. Krista is a leader in her profession as well, serving the BELS School Library Consortium Executive Board and as Chairperson of the BELS Website Committee, and serving on the Mackin TYSL Advocacy Board. She is a cofounder of Edcamp Urban and is the creator and innovator of New Jersey’s #NJLibChat Twitter chat. She is a Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer, providing webinars for AASL on topics including Google Apps for librarians and the power of PLNs, with more on the horizon. Her online networking, interactions, and frequent lively Twitter posts promote libraries and educational technology uses and integration in learning and instruction. Krista is currently a doctoral student in the Educational Technology Leadership Program at New Jersey City University. 

@KristaWelz  |  KristaWelz.com 


Program Pioneer: Naomi Bates

As her thousands of Twitter followers can attest, Naomi Bates, school librarian at Northwest High School in Justin TX, is full of great ideas and wonderful resources, which she shares generously through daily posts. Naomi is a voracious reader and posts YA literature reviews on her blog, YA Books and More, where readers can find digital media resources and presentations, as well. Her nominator mentioned, “I teach a class to classroom teachers who are in a program to become certified as library media specialists, and nearly every week I am sharing something with them that Naomi has posted. I tell them that she is one of my idols in our profession.” In addition to her Twitter, Pinterest and GoodReads activity, Naomi is also a frequent poster to LM_Net, one of the original “social” tools for librarians looking to connect with professional colleagues globally.

YA Books and More  |  @yabooksandmore  |  Pinterest  |  GoodReads  |  #ReadYALit chat  |  Instagram  |  Snapchat: nhstexlibrary


Curriculum Champion: Michelle Luhtala

Michelle Luhtala is the department chair at New Canaan High School Library in Connecticut, which won AASL’s National School Library Program of the Year in 2010. She was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2015, and won the New York Times I Love My School Librarian award in 2012. Since 2010, Michelle has facilitated edWeb.net’s flagship professional learning community, now over 11,000 members strong, where she facilitates monthly webinars. Michelle served on the AASL Board of Directors from 2011 through 2015, and the Connecticut Digital Library eResource Advisory Task Force since 2009. In 2017, Michelle will teach pre-service courses at Rutgers University and Southern Connecticut State University. She is a contributing author to Growing Schools: Librarians as Professional Developers. According to her nomination statement, “Michelle does an outstanding job of both creating and disseminating innovative and meaningful curriculum through her monthly edWeb.net/emergingtech webinars, Twitter, and her blog, Bibliotech.me. Her resources are valuable for the entire school library community on a national scale.”

@mluhtala  |  Bibliotech.me  |  Emerging Tech – Edweb


Leadership Luminary: Joyce Valenza

Currently influencing pre-service librarians as an Assistant Professor at Rutgers University, Dr. Joyce Valenza spent 25 joyful years as a school librarian. Her virtual library, launched in 1996, served as a model for countless other efforts. Joyce has mentored, inspired and guided generations of school librarians and educators to become innovative leaders and reinvent practice and generously shares her journey in her blog (since 2005), and through her manifesto, her books, research, wikis, tweets, presentations and curation efforts. Committed to building our online community of practice, Joyce initiated the #tlchat hashtag, the AASL Unconf and was a mother of TL Virtual Café and our ISTE SIG. Joyce has served on a multitude of AASL and ALA committees including Best Apps for Teaching and Learning and the Future Ready Librarians team. Joyce was selected as one of Technology and Learning’s 100@30 and won an Edublogs Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Neverending Search blog  |  @joycevalenza  |  Google+


Social Justice Defender: Susan Polos

After the elementary librarian positions were defunded in her district, Susan Polos could have accepted the decision as a done deal. She didn’t, according to her nominator. “[Susan] continues to advocate for quality library programs and access to diverse literature for her entire school community and beyond. She questions posts, tweets, speeches and ‘popular’ chatter, and holds each and every person to a higher level on decisions that reflect significant and ethical impact for children, underserved populations, mainstream groups, and our future.” A year later and it appears that at least some elementary positions may be reinstated – but that doesn’t mean Susan is done advocating for libraries. “Susan is a walking/talking heart and soul for school libraries and the kids they transform” and anyone who knows her knows that her work won’t stop until all kids have the library program they deserve.  |  @spolos


The Task Force thanks all who participated by submitting a nomination or leaving an endorsement. All the nominees were outstanding and all were seriously considered for recognition. Let our finalists inspire you today!

Social Media Recognition Task Force
Jane Lofton, Chair
Marifran DeMaine Cathy Jo Nelson
Liz Dodds Pam Harland, Board Liaison
Elissa Malespina Jen Habley, Staff Liaison

Author: Jen Habley

Jen Habley is the AASL Manger of Web Communications. She manages the AASL website, writes press releases, and oversees AASL’s web 2.0 tools. When not working Jen spends time researching her family tree, reading, and watching hockey.



Categories: Association News, News

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: