Applications Are Open for the Sara Jaffarian Award

Are you a school librarian who has developed an outstanding humanities program? Do you work with kindergarten through eighth-grade students? Then you are encouraged to apply for the Sara Jaffarian Award.

What Is It?

The Sara Jaffarian Award is a $5,000 award given annually by the American Library Association (ALA) Programming Office. The funding for this award is provided by ALA’s Cultural Communities Fund (CCF).

To be eligible you need to:

  • Work at a public or private school in the United States
  • Serve any combination of students in kindergarten through eighth grade
  • Have completed a humanities program during the 2019–2020 school year
  • Be staffed by a state-certified librarian
  • Have the program show the role of the school library as a valuable part of the school community

The humanities program can be connected to a variety of subject areas including social studies, language arts, foreign language, and more. The goal would be to broaden perspectives and go beyond the traditional curriculum. Successful programs help students understand a different point of view and where students fit in a wider world.

Who Was Sara Jaffarian?

Sara Jaffarian was a retired school librarian who worked in public and school libraries in Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Washington. She was a member of the American Library Association for 63 years serving on many committees as well as several leadership roles. Click here to learn more about her.

Why Does It Matter?

The goal of the award is to celebrate programs that go beyond the “basics.” It is important as educators to show students how to see the value in someone else’s experiences. We must teach our students to see beyond what is in front of them. It gives students a chance, even at a young age, to expand their world view.

These types of programs allow others to see the possibilities. It shows what collaboration and creative thinking look like and how humanities can easily be incorporated into the traditional curriculum.

For example in 2018-2019 the winner came from Wyoming Middle School in Ohio where the school librarian and two social studies teachers created a Poverty and Philanthropy Class. In the class students research poverty rates in their local area, determine a nonprofit in their school community to support, and learn that philanthropy involves more than just donating money, but can include giving your time, treasure, and talent. Click here to learn more about this program.

Here are other previous winners you might be interested in:

How Do I Apply?

Applications will be accepted until May 4, 2020. Check out the PDF of the application to see the questions before you apply. Award guidelines can be found at


Author: Kelly Hincks

I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a school librarian for the past eleven years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a school librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, Michigan Association of School Librarians (MASL).

Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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