As the ALA/AASL spring election season approaches, AASL is using this public forum as a venue to introduce our 2018 slate for the AASL ballot. Each candidate was given the opportunity to respond to this question: “What is the biggest/most important change that AASL could make in the next 3 years?”
Read the candidates’ responses over the next few days. Be informed. Be involved. Your voice and your vote make a difference. As the election opens on March 12, be ready to cast your vote. It is important for all AASL members to exercise the right to vote in ALA’s spring election process.
The candidates for Region 3 Director are:
- Kathy Lester
- Susan Yutzey
Statements and/or videos were a voluntary option offered to all candidates.
My name is Kathy Lester and I am a School Librarian at East Middle School in Plymouth, Michigan. Further information about my background, accomplishments, and aspirations can be found at: http://bit.ly/KLesterInfo.
For this blog post, I have been asked to respond to the question: “What is the biggest/most important change that AASL could make in the next 3 years?”
AASL’s current 3-year strategic plan was written in 2014. As part of updating this strategic plan, AASL should survey their members to collect information about member needs and concerns as well as information about what AASL members find most valuable about their AASL membership and what changes members would most like to see.
For my part, my membership in AASL has connected me to our profession, provided me with professional development, and empowered me to be a leader and an advocate for students’ equitable access to effective school library programs staffed by certified school librarians. I have seen AASL build partnerships with ALA, the National Principal Association, and others to further educate and advocate for the transformational role of school librarians for students. I would love to see AASL continue to strengthen and build partnerships with ALA and national associations for superintendents, principals, educators, and parents in an effort to continue to advocate for and raise awareness of the importance of school librarians in reading achievement, technology integration, information literacy, and college and career readiness.
I am truly honored to have been nominated for the Region 3 Director position. If elected, I would work hard to advocate for our profession, to communicate for and with members, and to engage members in taking advantage of opportunities for school librarians such as implementing the new AASL Standards and continuing to be leaders in their schools and communities.
AASL must expand its view of partnerships with like-minded organizations. AASL is partnered with fourteen organizations. ASCD’s Whole Child is the only partner organization that focuses on a “healthy and supportive climate” for children. Adverse childhood experiences (ACES) such as physical/emotional neglect, parental separation/divorce, violence outside the home, income insecurity are taking a toll on child development because the brain is not designed to learn when it’s in a fearful state. According to a recent study by Vanessa Sacks of Child Trends, a nonpartisan research organization, 45 percent of children have experienced one or more adverse experiences. Children in every state are affected; however, in Ohio, Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, and New Mexico at least fifteen percent of children have experienced three or more adverse childhood experiences.
School libraries are regarded as community spaces – welcoming and safe spaces. By expanding AASL’s view of partnerships, these organizations can provide the informational tools that school librarians need to achieve three goals. First, they will have the know-how to be a part of an expanding community ecosystem that includes public libraries, parent-teacher associations, boys and girls clubs. Building a strong and cohesive community ecosystem can help to mitigate the stress of trauma and to build resilience. Second, they will have the know-how to lead in their district’s ESSA plans, specifically Title IV A: Student Support and Enrichment Grants that focus on activities that support student physical and mental health. Third, they will have the know-how to build collections centered on health literacies to benefit the school community.
Finally, by expanding its view of partnerships, AASL builds a broader advocacy base. Organizations that research and/or work with children and youth experiencing adverse childhood experiences will recognize the significant role school librarians can and do play in providing a safe and secure space.
Author: Audrey Church, Leadership Development Committee Chair and 2017-2018 AASL Past President