AASL Social Media Superstars: Advocacy Ambassador Finalists

Please leave your testimonial for one (or all!) of the finalists as a comment below. Review all of the 2017 AASL Social Media Superstar Finalists here.


Michelle Cooper

From her nomination statement, we learn that teacher librarian “Michelle Cooper is a passionate educator and enthusiastic proponent of school libraries, technology integration, collaboration with educational professionals, and helping young people succeed. She is a co-founder of #TXLchat on Twitter,  2016 TCEA Library Media Specialist of the Year, Wonderopolis Wonder Lead Ambassador, Makey Makey Ambassador, Certified Google Educator, 2016 TASL MVP Honorable Award-winner for Excellence, and 2016 TLA Branding Iron Award-winner for Social Media for #TXLchat. She provides professional development through local, state and national educational conferences. Michelle currently serves as the library media specialist at White Oak Middle School in Texas.”

White Oak Middle School Media Center  |  @_MichelleCooper  |  WOMSMediaCenter  |  #TXLchat


Sara 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


James Allen

James Allen is a teacher librarian and EDhub Director at Eminence Independent Schools in Kentucky. From his nomination statement, we learn that he was “instrumental in starting the #KyLChat on Twitter, which takes place every second and fourth Tuesday of the month, and gives librarians across Kentucky a place to share and explore new ideas. He is also a founder of the #KyGoPlay movement, which has completely changed the way people think about libraries and maker spaces. He is the go-to guy in Kentucky who is always willing to share and encourage others to try new things. James is a Google for Education Certified Innovator.

@TLJamesA  |  @EminenceSchools


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66 replies

  1. Michelle Cooper is a fantastic leader among Texas librarians and beyond. I am so indebted to her for her leadership in facilitating the weekly #txlchat on Twitter. She willingly shares her knowledge and experience with all of us in the profession. I am so thankful she is an active and vocal leader in my PLN.

  2. Sara Kelly Johns is tireless in her advocacy, both in our home state of New York, and on the national scene. Always gracious, always positive, Sara truly represents the best in our profession.

  3. Sara Kelly Johns has been an inspiration and valuable source of information for me throughout my school library career. Always a star that shone brightly at AASL conferences and who could be counted on to continue to my learning through her posts on Facebook. I particularly remember when we were fortunate to have her speak at an annual meeting in New Jersey on Evaluation for School Librarians, at a time when this was a particularly hot (and confusing) topic. She shared the experiences of NY State librarians, who successfully advocated for one consistent and accurate evaluation tool. Sara is a perfect choice for the Advocacy Ambassor category!

  4. I work for Murray State University at the Kentucky Academy of Technology Education and have watched James Allen’s growth as an ambassador for libraries in Kentucky through his use of social media, among other things. He in a go getter who has been a critical part of the #kylchat Twitter chat and an advocate for makerspaces through the hashtag #KyGoPlay. He has been involved at our state technology conference in organizing the KyGoPlay sandbox for people to stop by and learn more about makerspaces through hands-on activities. He has also been active in the Google community in Kentucky. I believe he is the perfect candidate for the Advocacy Ambassador for AASL

  5. Sara is my pick! She’s wonderful to follow and a social media rock star!

  6. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Michelle Cooper has been a game changer for how libraries are received not only in east Texas, but easily across the state and beyond. Her constant drive to make the library the learning hub of the campus has been a focal point for how we redesign the other libraries in our district. Following her lead will allow students on all campuses to benefit from her forward thinking ideas. Michelle is also quick to share the successes of our students and their work through her many social media platforms. This not only inspires our staff and students to more and better things, it also creates a template for other librarians to model after to do the same for their learners. She is a tireless worker that we are so very proud to have in our district and is so deserving of this recognition and award. Thank you for honoring her with it.

  7. James Allen is an excellent candidate for the Advocacy Ambassador for AASL!! He has provided Librarians all across our great state of Kentucky with invaluable information and has helped us to see the need for technology/social media growth in our own libraries & professional growth of ourselves! I have been an Elementary School Librarian in Kentucky for the past 18 years and I value Mr. Allen’s knowledge and support. He goes above and beyond to help others be informed of the changing role Librarians play in this World!! I personally have a special folder in my email account specifically for Mr. Allen’s ingenious updates and ideas he sends out to our state Librarian’s List serve! Keep up the Great Work James!! So very proud to know Kentucky has such a great leader!!

  8. Michelle Cooper exemplifies the power of a teacher librarian. She is definitely a go-getter and has made a definite mark on the landscape of Texas school librarianship. Her work on Twitter #TXLchat has been amazing. No doubt, Michelle Cooper is a rockstar librarian and well-deserving of all the accolades there are!

  9. James Allen is indeed a Social Media superstar! In addition to being a visible and welcoming face of the monthly #kylchat Twitter that connects librarians across the state, he also features his cutting-edge makerspace on Instagram. During his tenure as president of the Kentucky Association of School Librarians, James used social media to showcase school libraries and bring far-flung librarians into a closer relationship, while also expanding the visibility of the work we do. James has a well-earned reputation as an early adopter, but the truly significant thing about him is his willingness to share his failures and successes, and provide a path for others to follow. He shares all of his knowledge with librarians via Google docs and postings on the KyLMS list serv for all school librarians in Kentucky. James is unfailingly generous with tips, links, and presentations, as his true passion is making school libraries exciting, relevant and centers of discovery for ALL students. We are so grateful for his contributions and feel he is an excellent candidate for this award!

  10. If I could pinpoint a specific turning point in my career and connectedness as an educator it would be when I connected with James Allen. He is a constant source of information, support and encouragement. He tirelessly advocates for school libraries and puts the needs of students above all else. I cannot imagine my PLN without James Allen

  11. James Allen is a superstar!! He is always presenting at events and helping other educators find ways to implement new tech!!

  12. James Allen is a wonderful example of paying it forward. He’s always willing to go above and beyond to assist others. His knowledge with GAFE makes him a great resource for those beginning their Google journey.

  13. James Allen is a social media superstar. His tweets amongst other things are fantastic.

  14. James Allen is definitely a rock star librarian! He is past-president of Kentucky Association of School Librarians, helps lead our bi-monthly #KYLChat, and is one of the first to share the newest technology! James is definitely deserving of this honor!

  15. James Allen is always connected with his fellow library media specialists and I can definitely say that we appreciate that! I’m thankful that he facilitates so much on social media–sharing his wealth of knowledge and connecting with others.

  16. James Allen defines the term “Social Media Superstar.” He helps lead the bi-monthly #KyLChat on Twitter, posts routinely about best practices and new technology, and helps ensure his school is up to date. James is well deserving of this honor.

  17. James Allen is a rock star librarian. He is always sharing his knowledge with others. He deserves this recognition.

  18. James Allen is a great librarian. He is always sharing his knowledge with others. He deserves this recognition.

  19. If you need information, James can help! He is SO helpful!

  20. James Allen rocks the social media world!! He’s full of helpful information and loves to share it with others!

  21. James Allen is a knowledgeable leader in the areas of Technology, Social Media, and current practices in the Libraries of today. He is a very sharing individual with the knowledge that he has acquired. James Allen would be a wonderful asset to all Librarians in this leadership role.

  22. James Allen is always in touch with the forefront of what is pushing human connectedness, a breath of fresh air and always hitting on what is current and helpful to technologist. A leader and advocate in the field of technology use and getting the word out, definitely deserving of this award.

  23. James Allen–you mean YOU haven’t heard of him?! He is a phenomenal teacher librarian and person. He is an asset to the librarians of Kentucky. He is one of the many reasons I look forward to the @kylchat every 2 weeks. He is knowledgeable and humble.

  24. In 2015, as part of a research study, I interviewed @_MichelleCooper in her role as a co-founder of #txlchat. She noted that the motivation behind the chat was to provide a forum for librarians to gain professional development through sharing ideas, best practices, technology applications, and to create a collaborative community of like-minded professionals. Michelle said, “I believe continuous learning challenges and inspires me to be a better librarian.” She continues to use her social media presence to support school librarians’ exemplary practice (including her own) and advocate for the highest quality of professional school librarianship.

  25. At a PD I once attended with James, I witnessed him simultaneously using a Chromebook, a smartphone, and a tablet. If that’s not the definition of a connected educator, what is?! James is a rockstar librarian here in Kentucky and we are all better professionals because of him.

  26. I’ve worked with James extensively over the last month or so and I have to say he is one of the most affable and dedicated educators I know. I am so excited that he is being recognized – he is absolutely amazing.

  27. James Allen is THE rockstar of library social media! He is willing to share information, encourage others to try the newest in technology, and co-founder of the KyLchat. James is a great leader for Kentucky Association of School Librarians and is known and respected nationwide! If there is any doubt about his knowledge and use of cutting-edge technology, go visit his school!! I cannot think of a more deserving person to be honored!

  28. James Allen has been a great supporter of the Hardin County Innovate Fellowship and shared so much information with us. He’s also a wonderful speaker at conferences no matter what he’s speaking on. The #KyGoPlayground at KySTE was amazing and let so many teachers know about the various tools teachers can use to implement fun and learning with technology in the classroom. He’s my pick!

  29. I always attend James’ sessions at conferences because I know he will share all kinds of neat techy library info!

  30. James Allen always has great tips to share! He is always willing to help out and teach us new things.

  31. James Allen is a rock star teacher librarian!! He always willing to help his peers and his students succeed. Love connecting with him in the KyGoPlay Playground and via KyLChat on Twitter!!

  32. James Allen is definitely the candidate for this prestigious award! He goes above and beyond to help and assist! He has been a true supporter of the Hardin County Innovate Fellowship and shared so much information with us. It has been my pleasure to meet him and be involved with his work!

  33. James Allen is a Social Media Rock Star!! He is always willing to help and share his knowledge with his fellow library/media specialists.

  34. James Allen is present in person and on social media wherever you look. His enthusiasm for technology is infectious. I learn something new every time I see him.

  35. James Allen is so knowledgeable!! He presentations are entertaining and educational! He is definitlely a social media superstar!

  36. James Allen is definitely the person for this prestigious award! He is a rock star among his students and his peers. He is always the go to person when you need information on the newest and latest technology.

  37. James Allen is a multiplier of knowledge and a a resource to the entire state. He is very deserving of this award!

  38. James Allen is a leader librarian. He is active and dependable on KyLMS and KyLChat. His passion for education and technology is infectious and he is always willing to share!

  39. I have been blessed to be participant in sessions led my James Allen. I have been able to witness and learn from what he is doing with and for the students as well as teachers of Kentucky! Go JAMES ALLEN!! Thank you for paying it forward and sharing your knowledge and love of learning with all of us!

  40. James is the epitome of a modern librarian/media specialist. In the years I have known him, I have learned so much, and appreciate his diligence, leadership, and passion for students and education. I can’t think of a better person for your award.

  41. James is the true definition of a modern librarian. He encourages others to use social media and is a leader in helping others know and use social media properly.

  42. I am sure that ALL three of the candidates are fantastic, but the one that has my vote, with no question, is James Allen. His willingness to help others is admirable. James is an innovator, creator, and a dreamer. Most of all, James is a passionate teacher giving his students opportunities that they may not ever have.

  43. James Allen is so deserving of this acknowledgement of his efforts. He is not only a tremendous resource for the state of Kentucky but he shares broadly with global educators regularly.

  44. James Allen enthusiasm is contagious! He is approachable and engaging. I enjoyed meeting and speaking with him at the KASL summer refresher as well as during twitter chats. He is an inclusive leader!

  45. Sara Kelly Johns has been a library activist for decades. She uses social media as a platform for getting out the message, but she also knows how to use in-person contacts. Most importantly she inspires other librarians to advocate using whatever platforms work for them She is a role model and an inspiration.

  46. Sara Kelly Johns has used social media to continuously advocate for the role school librarians and libraries play in education. Throughout her service to the profession, she has made and continues to make advocacy a central theme of her interactions with librarians serving in all types of institutions and community constituents. Thank you, Sara.

  47. James Allen’s passion for bringing technology innovation into the libraries has redefined not only the role of the library media specialist, but has also reshaped what students can expect to experience in their school library. Ten years ago while many of us were entranced with interactive white boards, James had greater visions. He is a true imagineers. James has actively used social media to promote the importance of libraries and library media specialists, and he has taken on leadership roles within KASL. James is generous with his time and skills. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of recognition and thNks.

  48. When we need advocacy materials, advice and leadership, school, public and special librarians always turn first to Sara Kelly Johns! She is on the cutting edge of every movement and improvement, and she serves tirelessly for librarians everywhere. Sara deserves to be honored for the hours, days and weeks that she dedicates to our profession!

  49. There aren’t adequate words to describe James Allen’s contribution to Eminence Schools and the future of libraries en masse. He is constantly pushing the boundaries of how libraries operate, what they offer, and how to make them as relevant as possible. Many of the elements of our new Edhub (our own library of the future) exist solo thanks to his vision. He has created websites, videos, VR walkthroughs, and Tech Specs on the tools and the facilities in order to help make our own world available to the rest of the world.

    Here are a few of those resources. Take a look and you won’t be disappointed! James is truly the best of the best!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2caHIjl7sFg
    http://youvis.it/2SEN5M
    https://sites.google.com/eminence.kyschools.us/edhub/

    So proud of having James in the @EminenceSchools family!

    Dr. Buddy Berry
    Superintendent
    Eminence Schools

  50. To quote Kate Osterloh, as I could not have said it better myself:
    “James Allen defines the term “Social Media Superstar.” He helps lead the bi-monthly #KyLChat on Twitter, posts routinely about best practices and new technology, and helps ensure his school is up to date. James is well deserving of this honor”
    He is also the first to help with anyone who has technology questions on the listserv!

  51. Look up “Social Media Superstar” in the dictionary, and you will find James Allen. I first collaborated with James as one of the co-moderators of #KyLChat. Realizing that not all media specialists were as comfortable as he was with social media, James started presenting at various conferences around the state on using Twitter to create and grow one’s PLN. As a result, our #KyLChat group grew and has become an awesome resource to librarians across Kentucky. If that’s not enough, James uses Storify to provide an archive of chats, so people have 24/7 access to the information shared. In addition to #KyLChat and #KyGoPlay, James sits on the executive board of KASL, where his input is invaluable. He has also served as the chair of AASL’s Best Apps for Teaching and Learning and actively participates in conversations on our state’s list serv for media specialists. James would be the perfect Advocacy Ambassador for AASL.

  52. Without a doubt, my vote goes to James Allen. Coming to the Library Media Center from the classroom, my first years in this role were a challenge. James was my go-to guy! Whether he intentionally took on the role or not, he became one of my mentors. And that relationship pushed me to learn more and try new things every single day. He’s a visionary, who understands the bigger picture when it comes to library media education. His leadership and advocacy in our field makes him the perfect choice for the Advocacy Ambassador!

  53. We all knew that when Sara Kelly Johns retired from her school librarian position it did not mean that she retired from the profession. With her outgoing, positive outlook, as well as her wealth of knowledge, she is the perfect library advocate. She has held leadership positions at the regional, state and national level. Though I am a retired school librarian and library system director, I continue to follow my friend, Sara on FB to keep updated on what’s happening in libraries. I share any relevant library news with her, knowing she will get the word out. I’m really glad that Sara is teaching online at iSyracuse. The next generation of librarians need her!

  54. Before I became a librarian, and I knew I was headed into the field, I learned about #txlchat on Twitter. I immediately began following Michelle Cooper, and I am so glad I did. Now as a Texas school librarian, I count on and look forward to #txlchat and all the learning that will happen. Michelle Cooper co-founded this chat, and I will be forever grateful. She is welcoming, eager to share, and understands what school librarians need. She is a valued member of my PLN!

  55. James Allen has some very innovative programming, but more importantly he takes the time to connect to new librarians and encourage their programs.

  56. I’m not sure I can say anything new at this point, but I can certainly add my own witness. I have been more than lucky to land in James Allen’s orbit and become a better educator because of it. Definitely a social media superstar! Looking forward to learning from him for a long time!

  57. I had the great fortune to connect with Michelle via #TXLChat. Her knowledge about librarianship and her willingness to share her knowledge with others is testament to her wanting to give back to her profession. She willingly steps up to support and advocate for libraries. She’s truly a servant leader, ready to share whenever called upon.

  58. James is an innovative advocate of library media through an array of social mediums. He’s an asset to learning communities.

  59. I have had the pleasure of working with Sara Kelly Johns on a number of occasions. She is always well informed and has been a consistent advocate for school librarianship for a number of years.

  60. This is a powerful trio. Sara Kelly Johns has been an inspiration and teacher since I started in the profession….she continues to help me and hundreds of others learn, challenge, speak up, commit, shift, push, transform, try, succeed, fail, try again, and DANCE no matter what.

    Her impact is exponential and I give her my vote!

  61. Sara Kelly Johns is a superstar advocate in NY state and for ALA/ AASL.

  62. This is a great group of people, but I particularly treasure the work that I have seen Sara Kelly Johns do on behalf of AASL.

  63. James Allen is not only amazing at his craft, but he truly cares about helping other educators. James equips many with tips and tricks of the trade and is completely selfless when it comes to sharing his knowledge and expertise. He is exactly the type of educator I would want for my own children and is exactly the type of colleague I would love to have. Having known James for the past two years has had a tremendous impact. I use apps and websites he has shared on a daily basis. I’m grateful to have him in my expanded PLN.

  64. James Allen is always sharing his ideas and activities that he does with his students. He participates in several events for his profession. He inspires me to do more. He is definitely a social media SUPERSTAR!!

  65. James Allen’s professionalism and passion for all things library and technology are inspiring to to us all. His enthusiasm is contagious.

  66. Sara Kelly Johns – Wow. There is absolutely no stronger ambassador for advocacy than Sara. Sara has her eyes and ears open at all times for opportunities to ensure school librarians are included in policies, regulations, budgets and laws. She is completely prepared and ready to speak when the right moment comes – and her words always have an impact. Like E.F. Hutton, when Sara talks, people listen. And listen they should, because no one else has been as involved and as committed to the profession as Sara. I’ve been at the Capitol in DC with Sara advocating for library programs, and she is fearless. She takes on leadership roles such as president of AASL and the New York Library Association; when she’s at the helm, we are in the best of hands. Sara led the AASL ESSA program in NY. She taught us all how to go forth and turnkey what we learned. The way Sara has advocated for school librarians throughout the work of NY’s ESSA draft is not only impressive, it has led to important changes that would not have happened without her. Sara is immersed in the work, always elevating and energizing the project at hand. Sara herself has been in the trenches and connects with those of us in the field with humor, dignity, intelligence and, above all, leadership. Her use of social media connects us, informs us, and calls us to action alongside her.

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