The 2019 ALA/AASL election season is just around the corner! AASL is continuing the tradition of using the KQ website as a space for you to learn more about those standing for election on the AASL ballot. Candidates for the 13 open positions were asked to answer the question “What Shared Foundation speaks to you, and how does it apply to you as a leader in the association?” and provide a short introductory video.
As you read the candidates’ responses over the coming days, think of what you want the future of your professional organization to be. The votes we cast will determine the future of our association, so mark your calendar to cast your vote beginning March 11 and be sure your local and state peers are casting their informed votes as well. School librarians are a critical part of the American library ecosystem and voting in our association election is a clear way to demonstrate our voice, our power, and our fervent desire for the strongest future for school libraries!
The candidates for Region 4 Director are:
Statements and/or videos were a voluntary option offered to all candidates.
Courtney L. Lewis
The Explore Shared Foundation instantly resonated with me when I read the new standards as having a growth mindset and an attitude of lifelong learning has been my focus for my 18+ years as a school librarian. Because of our unique position in our schools, school librarians “lead from the middle” by modeling the type of behavior we ask of learners while working with teachers as partners who also promote curiosity and persistence in our communities.
Curiosity and persistence also have other, immediately practical applications. As a candidate for Regional Director for Region 4, I would have the honor of working with the leadership of six states faced with a variety of challenges in the area of school libraries. While we work to do the work of AASL and bring our organization’s support and resources to the school librarians in each of these states, I would also like to identify areas of advocacy that have proved challenging in the past, such as the conferences and journals of school administrators, politicians, and parent organizations. Working with leaders at all levels to bring this message of our profession’s impact on learners, would be a definite focus of my term.
Finally, I believe that so many of the challenges and obstacles faced by our profession boil down to our Common Belief in issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. By crafting a solid message to all leadership that in order to want the best for your child, you must take care of everyone’s child, I hope to assist AASL and all its members and constituents to create lasting change that will inch our increasingly polarized world toward being a better place.
In November, we reached the one year anniversary of our new National School Library Standards. Since their release, school librarians have undoubtedly spent a significant amount of time diving into what the Standards mean and how they apply to us individually and our respective libraries. I had the chance to do this last summer during the #AASLowchat. I found that Include is the Shared Foundation that speaks to me most. Honestly, it comes quite naturally, as I am a huge advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusivity.
As a librarian, Include is most important to me because its the foundation I am convinced has a place in all the others. Our primary goal as educators is to empower learners to be thinkers and productive citizens. We cannot successfully do so without demonstrating and providing environments that naturally promote inclusivity in our learning communities. As a leader, Include applies in a similar way. I am a firm believer our Association should mirror–as best we can–the learning communities in which we serve. In addition to a commitment to diversity, our Association must also be responsible for creating and maintaining equitable opportunities to ensure inclusivity of all. As a leader, this means advocating for pathways for underrepresented groups, both in membership and leadership. In order to bring this into fruition, as a leader I commit to:
- engaging with school librarians who represent diverse perspectives,
- articulating the importance of designing opportunities for underrepresented groups to become involved,
- magnifying the definition of inclusivity/diversity as it relates to our demographics, and
- engaging in conversations that include a range of perspectives around the state of our Association.
I am honored to be a candidate for Region 4 Director and eager to include your voices in the “boardroom.” I hope you’ll allow me that opportunity.
Author: Steven Yates
Steven Yates is an assistant professor and coordinator of the school library media certification program at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama. He earned a doctor of philosophy in instructional leadership with an emphasis in instructional technology in 2017.