AASL Inspire Grants: Inspiring a Culture of Reading at Highland School of Technology

Inspiring students to be lifelong readers and learners is my passion, and as a recipient of both the AASL’s Inspire Collection Development Grant and the Inspire Special Event Grant, the students and teachers at Highland School of Technology in Gastonia, North Carolina, will have new resources to enjoy for the upcoming school year, bringing quality YA fiction, curriculum-supporting materials and digital resources to our library.  I am excited to work with my friends at Follett to purchase these new books for the students and I am so grateful to Marina “Marney” Welmers for her generosity, which is making all of this possible!








Developing a culture of reading at Highland is a shared goal between me and our English teachers at Highland.  The Inspire Collection Development Grant will make it possible to infuse our collection with popular, quality fiction titles, which will provide books that appeal to our diverse students.  Additionally, resources with strong curricular ties will be added to the collection as well.  New books are like a giant magnet to the library!  The appeal of reading a new book just seems to attract students to the library and further encourages lifelong reading.  Maybe it is the smell of a new book, or maybe it is finding that book from a favorite author on display, but there is no denying the power of new books to bring students into the library.  Our commitment to nurturing readers flows from the library and into the classrooms, supporting independent reading across disciplines.  The generous grant funding will allow me to purchase books that will be on display as soon as students return in the fall, kicking off the school year with an inviting display of new reading opportunities for our students.  I am thrilled to be a recipient of the Collection Development Grant, and I cannot wait to put these new materials into circulation for the students.

Transforming lives through reading is a pleasure to witness.  Books motivate, encourage, inspire, comfort, support, challenge and entertain us.  The Inspire Special Event Grant will provide funding to impact our high school book club, making multiple copies of each month’s reading selections available to our book club members and eventually all of our patrons as part of our library collection.  The grant money will provide funding for a book club Kick-off party in the fall and the books for the book club meetings throughout the school year as well as summer reading selections, too.  The ripple effect of the Inspire Special Event Grant is exciting to think about.  Book club members will read and discuss the books through our monthly face-to-face conversations and our Google Classroom chats, discussing the books, digging deeper and analyzing the texts.  In turn, these books will be promoted through video book commercials created by the readers, which will be shared via our school news program and our social media platforms.  We share about reading at Highland using the hashtag #HSTreads, and we would love for you to join the conversation with us as we seek to broaden the reach of our social media book chats.  Through Facebook and Twitter, our book club members will promote reading to the entire school through their creative video book commercials and social media posts.  The hope is that student readers across the school will be encouraged to stop by the library and check-out great books to read.  The impact of the Inspire Special Event Grant funding is far-reaching and I am looking forward to experiencing the power of sharing about books during the 2017-18 school year.

Supporting strong school libraries and library programming is so essential to student success.  I believe that when students have a vibrant, engaging library space available to them, with resources that entertain them and support their learning, they will be empowered and the  result is a powerful, positive impact on their learning.  Many thanks to Marney Welmer and to AASL for awarding Highland two Inspire Grants!  Our library collection is truly going to be blessed and enhanced by the generous funding we have received and I certainly look forward to sharing our journey on my blog at http://hstreaders.blogspot.com/ and on Twitter using the handle @laurablong.

Author: Laura Long

Laura Long is the school library media specialist at Highland School of Technology in Gastonia, NC, a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her Masters of Library Science from East Carolina University. She is a Gaston County Schools’ Delta Fellow, Pinnacle Technology Leader and member of the Pioneering Educators Team, as well as a National Board certified language arts teacher. Additionally, she is the President of the North Carolina School Library Media Association. She loves collaborating and helping her students connect with others around the world, so feel free to contact her via email or social media.

Categories: Awards Spotlight, Community

2 replies

  1. Very proud of your many accomplishments. I remember conservations in my office after your youngest child enrolled in school and you were planning to finish college. Following you career always makes me smile with pride.

  2. I love your library. Enjoy both the books and event.

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