AASL President’s Program & Crystal Apple Recognition

As I close out my year as president of the American Association of School Librarians, I have two important responsibilities to tackle. First, each year at the ALA Annual Conference, the current AASL president hosts a President’s Program. This two hour session can include whatever the president chooses, so it will come as no surprise to most that mine will focus on building relationships. As I thought about how to bring this focus of my presidential year to a session at the biggest library conference in the nation, I wished I could include all of the people I have met across the country who have influenced my library journey by inviting them to share their stories with others. And, I thought, “Why not?!” This is my party, and I can celebrate school librarians however I want to!

As such, if you are going to be in San Diego for ALA Annual, please consider joining me and folks I have had the great opportunity to build relationships with at the “Sharing Our Stories! – How School Librarians Build Relationships” session on Saturday June 29th from 9:30-11:30 AM. AND, I don’t just want you to attend this session. I want you to be part of it! Come prepared to share at least one story about a relationship you have built through your work as a school librarian – with a student, fellow teacher, admin, parent, community member, fellow librarian, etc. There just might be a small thank you given to those willing to share with us! (P.S. This is a 2 hour session. You are welcome to join the fun for the full 2 hours, but you are also welcome to come when you can during that time frame.)

Join AASL President Courtney Pentland and several of her friends and colleagues from across the country as they share their own personal stories about building relationships through their role as school librarians. “Building Relationships is a key tenet of our profession that fuels so much of the work we do each and every day, which is why I chose it as the focus for my presidential year. As school librarians are always so generous with sharing their ideas and experiences, I thought, what better way to close out my term as president than hearing stories from our members so we can all continue to learn and grow together. Each guest will share at least one story with the audience, but we will also be asking the audience to share their stories as well. You can come just to listen and compile a list of ideas, but I hope you will consider sharing your story with us. You and your story matter!”

The only difficulty I had putting together my list of guests was limiting the number! Some of these folks I became friends with prior to my role on the AASL Board and some of them I have met this year as I criss-crossed the country attending school library conferences for AASL chapters. I have invited one person from each of the states I visited this year to join me in sharing a story (KY, MN, OR, TN, MT, and RI).

Guests in Alphabetical Order: Tom Bober (MO), *Martha Bongiorno (GA), K.C. Boyd (DC), Tamara Cox (SC), Molly Dettman (OK), *Laura Gingras (MN), Dustin Hensley (TN), Amy Hermon (MI), *Jennifer Hossack (MT), *Michelle Jarrett (FL), Amanda Jones (LA), Matt King (MO), Stacey Nunn (MD), *Cherity Pennington (OK), *Karina Quilantan (TX), Ayn Reyes Frazee (OR), Jillian Rudes (NY), Steve Tetreault (NJ), Melissa Thom (CT), Andrea Trudeau (IL), Sara Smith (CA), Carrie Wilkerson (KY), and more to be announced.   *Indicates they will be joining us via video

My second responsibility as I close out my presidential year is that during the AASL President’s Program at ALA Annual, the honoree(s) of the AASL Crystal Apple recognition is announced. The Crystal Apple is given at the discretion of the AASL President to an individual or group who has had significant impact on school libraries and students. This year, we are announcing the winners early, because this situation is a little different than in past years.

I struggled with this decision, not because there are not many deserving individuals and groups that could receive this recognition, but because I kept coming back to the same idea in my head. In my heart, the group I thought was most deserving of this recognition was all of you! 

School librarians across our country have been doing their incredibly challenging and vital day to day work all while faced with the repercussions of a vocal minority’s anti-school library actions. It doesn’t matter if your community has been affected by these actions yet or not as we all are feeling the stress and anxiety they have caused, though at varying levels.

As I thought about the people I have met while visiting school library conferences across the country, and especially those I encountered at the AASL National Conference in Tampa last October, I knew this was the decision of my heart, but I wondered if it was even possible.

Again, I thought, “Why not?!” It is my choice as to who receives this recognition, and I can celebrate school librarians however I want to! I truly believe that each and every one of you deserves this recognition because of the relationships you build every day that positively influence your school communities. Your influence goes beyond the walls of your school library and even beyond the walls of your school building and the boundaries of your city or town. 

Each student you teach, each staff member you collaborate with, each community member you invite into your space is changed for the better because of you. They take the opportunities you have provided with them out into the world, no matter where they end up in life. Their lives are better because of you. Bestowing the Crystal Apple Recognition on all school librarians is one small way to acknowledge the local, national, and even global difference each certified school librarian can have on generations of learners.

So, without further ado…CONGRATULATIONS!     

YOU (all of you) are the winners of the 2024 AASL Crystal Apple!

While I wish we could mail each and every one of you a physical crystal apple, you can understand why that is logistically and fiscally not possible. BUT, we tried to come up with afew ideas that will allow you to still celebrate receiving this much deserved recognition.

  1. A Canva template to insert yourself into a graphic announcing this recognition! We ask that the only changes you make to the template are to add your picture and your name to the graphic.

2. A Canva template to insert your name into a certificate for receiving this recognition! Again, we ask that the only changes you make to the template are to add your picture and your name to the graphic.


3. If you have access to a 3D printer, you can print your own Crystal Apple recognition! Thank you to AASL Board Member Barbara Johnson for putting this file together. This file can be scaled to print smaller or larger if desired, and you can pick your favorite filament color!  I printed a copy using the original file dimensions, and here is what it will look like! I used my local public library’s maker space to print this one. It is 4.5” tall from bottom of the base to the top of the stem. The base is 4” x 4”.      

4. If you are at ALA Annual, stop by the President’s Program and take a picture with this larger than life Crystal Apple! While this is a serious recognition,

I wanted to provide a touch of whimsy because our profession is also joyful and at times playful.

As my presidential year comes to a close I am incredibly grateful for the relationships I have built with our AASL board members, folks in ALA like Emily Drabinski (2023-24 ALA President), folks from AASL chapters that I have met both in person and online, and all of the school librarians who have attended any of our virtual or in person events.

You have brought joy to my journey, and I will never forget the influence you all have had on my life. Thank you with my whole heart for doing the vital, important work of school librarianship and for sharing your stories with me. And, please keep in touch. As I tell my graduate students at the end of each semester, I’m not going away from your lives. I’m still here. Reach out if you need anything or to share your joys and successes!

(Coming full circle back to my 2nd KQ Blog Post as AASL President)

Finding Joy in the Journey




Author: Courtney Pentland, AASL President 2023-2024

Categories: Advocacy/Leadership

Tags: ,

2 replies

  1. How thoughtful!

    Much appreciated, Courtney!

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