Veterans Memorial Elementary School, located in Naples, Fla., is the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) 2016 National School Library Program of the Year (NSLPY) Award recipient. Sponsored by Follett, the NSLPY Award annually recognizes a school library program that meets the needs of the changing school and library environment and is fully integrated into the school’s curriculum. The recipient receives an obelisk – the symbol of school library excellence – and $10,000 toward its school library program.
“The library at Veterans Memorial Elementary School is truly the heart of learning and discovery for the school,” said Barbara Stripling, NSLPY committee chair. “From producing the early morning news show to investigating gravity by creating marble runs in the library makerspace to exploring science, literature, and social studies topics, students at VME are engaged and excited to be learners in the library. The librarian, Marge Cox, has stirred the passion and commitment of parents, teachers, and members of the community to make the library a special place for each child.”
Veterans Memorial Elementary School opened in 2007 and serves about 840 students in pre-kindergarten through 5th grade. Soon after opening, the school adopted the “Leader in Me” philosophy, which teaches 21st-century leadership and life skills and creates a culture of student empowerment based on the idea that every child can be a leader. Student participation occurs through the student–run TV studio, makerspaces, makerspace lab and instruction. Fourth and fifth graders apply for jobs at the beginning of the school year and work on developing their personal leadership skills through such positions as TV crew, library leaders, student mentors and ambassadors.
“VME opened with a philosophy of collaboration and it has always been a part of our culture,” wrote Cox in her application. “I work with our staff to provide instruction in a variety of ways. We believe 21st-century students need to develop a variety of skills and that can be best accomplished by collaborative, interactive and relevant experiences. At VME, I serve on our leadership team that allows me to help look at data and see how we can impact student learning. As a part of the team, I also provide professional development for our staff. By nature, I’m an early adopter. I think it is my responsibility to know and use best practices and I stay current by reading professional journals, attending conferences and networking. I then share that information with VME teachers and other district school librarians.”
“We are thrilled that Marge Cox has been recognized for her outstanding work and amazing dedication at Veterans Memorial Elementary School,” said Nader Qaimari, president, Follett School Solutions. “Marge and her library represent the epitome of future-ready learning, as demonstrated by the dynamic learning space she’s built, the many ways she empowers her staff, and the way her library impacts classroom learning and helps her students develop 21st-century skills.”
“AASL is proud to recognize school librarian Marge Cox and Veterans Memorial Elementary School as the 2016 recipient of prestigious National School Library Program of the Year Award,” said AASL President Leslie Preddy. “As the nation’s most distinguished school library award of excellence, Veterans Memorial Elementary’s community can take great pride in their outstanding school library program. Through Mrs. Cox’s leadership and guidance, the library exemplifies an effective school library through enthusiastic engagement and support of the literacy, curricular and emotional needs of the learners, staff and community. Congratulations!”
The AASL award winners will be honored at the AASL Awards Ceremony during the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando. The ceremony will be held from 9 – 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 25. All are welcome to celebrate the accomplishments of their peers during this recognition event taking place prior to the AASL President’s Program.
Author: Jen Habley
Jen Habley is the AASL Manager of Web Communications. She manages the AASL websites, writes press releases, coordinates AASL’s online learning opportunities, and oversees AASL’s web 2.0 tools. When not working, Jen spends time researching her family tree, reading, and watching hockey.