Once upon a time that is now, valiant school librarians bravely arrive at school every day to promote literacy, diversity, equity, inclusion, the right to be educated, and the First Amendment right to read. These amazing knights of knowledge, princes and princesses of peace, face down enemies of their kingdoms with swords of truth that are being battered aside by the strong foes of misinformation. We feel battle-worn but continue to stand as voices for the voiceless and strength for the weak. Make no mistake, school librarians are amazing–YOU are amazing!
It is now March again and time for the AASL membership to elect the valiant volunteers who will lead our organization forward! Please join me in cheering on the brave candidates who have agreed to stand for election, adding national leadership to their repertoire of skills. They have introduced themselves in videos on the AASL YouTube Channel. They have also written answers to the following question: “Every school librarian is a leader. What is one of your leadership traits, and how will you use that to forward AASL’s mission and vision for every learner to have a school librarian?” Please read through their answers below and be sure to vote when the ballot arrives in your inbox.
Thank you to the valiant volunteers who have served as AASL leaders and those who have agreed to lead into the future. We may each be weary in today’s climate, but together we are stronger. We are School Librarians. We are AASL.
Statements and/or videos were a voluntary option offered to all candidates. Mark your calendar to cast your vote while polls are open, March 13 – April 5.
The candidates for the Supervisors Section, Chair-elect are:
The candidates for Supervisors Section, Secretary are:
Ayn Reyes Frazee
This is an excellent question. In conversations with my colleagues at the Kentucky Department of Education, we often refer to our school librarians as “library leaders.” One trait I believe many of our library leaders and myself have is the ability to recognize and consider multiple perspectives in situations and conversations. It is a skill that I constantly think about, and one I work to actively build upon. Keeping perspectives in mind helps me to predict issues that may arise or strategies that may be more effective in advocating for school librarians and libraries.
Although we all likely share that mission and vision for every learner to have access to a high-quality school library and librarian, our perspectives and experiences are unique. The path that we take to get to that ultimate goal will depend on many individuals, including parents, teachers, administrators, lawmakers, and the community at large. It is essential that we recognize that each of those individuals has had varied life experiences, but specifically, they have had unique exposures and involvement in school libraries. Recognizing these differences and working to improve library experiences for everyone is key. Knowing that the path may look very different depending on the situation will help us reach that ultimate AASL mission and vision.
Whether I am selected through this election or not, I look forward to continuing to work with educators across the country on advocating for school libraries and for unrestricted access to information. Thank you for being involved in our profession and for the work you do to meet the needs of your students and fellow teachers.
I’m running for SPVS Chair-elect. One of my strengths as a leader is strategic thinking. The members of the supervisor’s section have vast expertise and experience when it comes to school librarianship. If elected, I’d like to focus on harnessing that knowledge and expertise to create a strategy for how we might work together to move the mission of AASL forward. Strategic thinkers like data, analyzing patterns, and choosing paths that lead to the very best outcomes. If our goal is a school librarian for every learner, how can we collect and use data from our experience leading school library programs to identify patterns, possible paths, and actions that will lead us to our goal?
Ayn Reyes Frazee
One of my leadership traits is effective communication. I know when to talk and when to listen, making space for different perspectives. It’s important that we, as leaders in our schools and communities, are sharing our ideas and information as well as advocating tirelessly for the school library programs our students deserve. Communication facilitates the actions we must take to increase awareness of the vital role that school librarians play in the educational outcomes of young people. Equitable access to library resources and staff regardless of a student’s zip code is a priority. All students deserve the best possible educational experience, but unfortunately there is disparity and inconsistency across school districts nationwide. Collaboration is such a powerful tool in our buildings, and I’d love to see more of it on a broader scale. As a group, we are passionate, talented, and driven – we can enact change on the state and federal levels around school library standards, legislation, and goals. I’m ready and excited to take on a leadership role that has the potential to impact so many students. While the committee work may be indirect, any support that I can give to my colleagues will ultimately empower our learners and deepen the important work that we all do.
One of my leadership traits is my ability to build positive relationships. I build connections with effective communication and genuine interest in what others have to say. When participating in or facilitating meetings and discussions, whether they are with students, colleagues, school leadership, or other stakeholders, I work to ensure that everyone has a voice and feels listened to. I try to bring in others’ viewpoints with objectivity and respect, drawing on the identities and experiences of each individual so that I can more fully understand all sides of issues. I ask clarifying questions and actively listen. This not only helps build trust, but also helps me make more informed decisions and find common ground for everyone involved.
Studies have shown that a strong and healthy relationship with just a single trusted adult in a school can have a dramatic long-term positive effect on a student’s engagement, achievement, and social development. School librarians have so many opportunities to cultivate relationships with their students in safe, welcoming, and inviting spaces. This is one reason that it is vital for every learner to have a school librarian.
Advancing the need for a school librarian at every school can be a cultural shift in some communities. First building relationships with stakeholders and then listening with empathy in order to gain an understanding of the barriers to staffing librarians goes a long way. To reach our goals, we must work in partnership, striving together for the best outcomes for students in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. This can lead to positive solutions.
Author: Jennisen Lucas, AASL Leadership Development Committee Chair
As the AASL Immediate Past President, Jennisen Lucas is chair of the AASL Leadership Development Committee.