When I applied for the Frances Henne Award, I was unfamiliar with the role the woman the award was named after played in my calling as a school librarian. When I won, I felt compelled to learn more about Henne. Frances Henne was a leader in the development of school library standards and championed school libraries and school librarians. She advocated for collaboration between school librarians and classroom teachers.(Kester and Jones, n.d.). I am profoundly moved that the work I am currently doing and the plans I have for the future are in keeping with her legacy. After reading about Henne, I am even more honored to have received this award and proud to represent beginning school librarians everywhere. This award has renewed my dedication to support the needs of my students, colleagues, administration, and school community as a teacher, information and technology specialist, and instructional leader.
I came across the Frances Henne Award on the AASL website because I am a strong believer in the value of attending a national conference, and I knew I needed to seek out funds to afford me this opportunity. Throughout my career I have drawn inspiration, renewed enthusiasm, and garnered new ideas from attending national conferences. They are the essence for staying current, networking with like-minded peers, and deepening my own commitment to my profession.
In my fourth year as a school librarian, I knew this was my last chance to apply. While I was hopeful, I was also tentative, knowing that this is an award given to only one school librarian in the country. For this reason, I was truly surprised and elated to open my congratulatory email in April. It was then I knew my hope to attend the AASL National Conference in Salt Lake City this October was now a reality. I was and still am thrilled.
What I Am Looking Forward to at the AASL National Conference
Collaboration is at the core of everything I do. Bringing my expertise to a lesson enhances the experience for the students and builds a solid relationship with the teacher. Together we are better. While working with my administration, colleagues, and students is a highlight of my days, I relish the chance to brainstorm and collaborate with other librarians too! A collaborative spirit is a big part of the conference and is one of the aspects of attending the national conference that I look forward to being a part of the most. Whether it is in a workshop, meeting, or informal get-together, I am looking forward to learning and sharing ideas with my peers.
Most schools have only one librarian, if any at all, and it can be a lonely position. You may or may not be part of a team or department. Often, on professional development days, administration does not understand your needs and you are partnered with other teachers who usually do not share in the unique role you play.
Because the AASL National Conference is the only national conference specifically for school librarians, the offerings will directly apply to what I do on a day-to-day basis and provide me the professional development I crave. Attending current, timely, and relevant sessions, truly tailored to the unique needs of our profession, is something I look forward to tremendously.
One of the concurrent session strands I am most enthused about is the Leadership and Advocacy strand. The importance of having a certified school librarian in a school can not be overstated. It is not easy to advocate for yourself and to highlight the myriad ways you support the school community. Most of us see our position as behind the scenes. Our role and expertise must be showcased. I am ready to be a voice for our profession. While attending the national conference, I hope to deepen my understanding of the standards, find tools and resources to highlight the benefits a certified school librarian brings to a school, as well as build the confidence to do this challenging but necessary work. Who is ready to join me?
Kester, Diane, and Plummer Alston Jones, n.d. “Frances Henne and the Development of School Library Standards.” The Free Library. https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Frances+Henne+and+the+development+of+school+library+standards.-a0125151317