The Maryland Association of School Librarians Is THANKFUL – ABC CLIO Leadership Grant Reflection

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Written with the assistance of  Donna Mignardi and April Wathen

The Maryland Association of School Librarians (MASL) was beyond grateful and excited to be the recipient of the ABC CLIO Leadership Grant for our association through the generosity of ABC CLIO and AASL. Over the past few years, under the leadership of Brittany Tignor (2018-2019), April Wathen (2019-2020), Jennifer Sturge (2020-2021), and president-elect Lindsey Weaver (2021-2022), MASL has gained significant ground in our professional development offerings. In our minds, the next logical step for our organization was to develop school librarian leaders throughout our state. 


As we brainstormed what we would like to offer our members, the idea of a book study boiled to the surface of our thinking. A decision to write a grant to include a book study on leadership that would be accessible to Maryland librarians created a lot of excitement!

As a result of this brainstorming and willingness to take a shot at the grant process, MASL has moved forward with a Maryland State Department of Education approved two-credit course for interested school librarians. The unique part of this experience is that with the overt effort of providing leadership training to school librarians through the course, we have a volunteer facilitator, Monique Gillis of Calvert County Public Schools, who just finished facilitating the book study on a smaller scale with school librarians in her own district. She is now putting her newly acquired leadership skills to use by facilitating this class that is being offered virtually. In addition, school librarians across the state will have the opportunity to learn in an intimate environment from the highly-respected librarian and author Judi Moreillon.

Virtual Learning – It Is a Pandemic, after All

The virtual offering is two-fold. We are breaking down the walls of the geography of our state to include those who would ordinarily have to drive 3 hours or more to meet and also granting access to those who may be immune compromised during this time of a global pandemic. Our goal is an inclusive offering to all who are interested in developing a network of support, education, friendship, career field knowledge, and, of course, leadership skills.

The course itself is being housed in Schoology and has broken down into segments.  The first segment identifies how to build connections for learning and how school librarians can assist in helping students prepare for their future. By identifying the stakeholders in the learning community librarians will understand how to increase their leadership impact. The second segment of the book study involves learning how to make the most of job embedded professional development and building a PLC network of colleagues to impact leadership skills. School librarians will then engage with leading inquiry learning, literacy learning, and deeper learning and explore how leadership skills are enhanced with strong teaching and researching in this area. 

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Reflecting Confidently

MASL is confident that building school librarian leadership skills across the state is a productive investment of time and energy not only for the Maryland Association of School Librarians as an association but for all stakeholders across the state. MASL is confident that this offering will bolster members’ involvement in AASL throughout the coming years as well. As our school librarian learners complete the book study we will be offering professional learning credit and a virtual badge for leadership as part of our leadership professional development series. 

MASL greatly appreciates the support of AASL in the process of growing leaders across our state as well as the strong modeling of a successful association to emulate our practices after. When we build our capacity from within and our leadership skills, the powerful, positive outcomes that follow will be sure to delight everyone in the library community.

Meet the guest authors:

Donna Mignardi is the school librarian at Calvert High School in Prince Frederick, Maryland. She is the secretary of the Maryland Association of School Librarians and chairperson of the communications committee.  Donna is also an author and blogger for Programming Librarian.

April Wathen April Wathen is the School Librarian at Lettie Marshall Dent where she is Teacher of the Year (ToY), 2019-2020. She holds certification and is National Board Certified in Library Media. April is the immediate past – president of Maryland Association of School Librarians and current chair of the professional development committee.

Donna and April are the co-recipients of the School Librarian of the Year Award for the state of Maryland.


Author: Jennifer Sturge

Jennifer Sturge is a Specialist for School Libraries and Digital Learning for Calvert County Public Schools. She has been an educator and librarian for 28 years and is always looking forward. She is a member of ALA and AASL,was the 2020-2021 President of the Maryland Association of School Librarians for 2020-2021, a 2017-2018 Lilead Fellow, and Chair of the AASL Supervisor’s Section of AASL..

Categories: Awards Spotlight, Community

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1 reply

  1. Congratulations on your award; it is well-deserved. Providing leadership development offerings for your state’s school librarians will benefit you all now and in the future. This community of leaders will lead and work together for the betterment of your learning communities while also mentoring those new to the profession. This is an idea that I hope will inspire others to create offerings and paths to leadership.

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